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A website redesign is like a Hollywood movie reboot. It really is.

There have been two attempts to reboot the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars. George Lucas gave us three prequels that, while generating some $2.5 billion in box office worldwide, were largely reviled for their lack of magic and stunted acting. Now JJ Abrams is rebooting with a sequel to the series called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Redesigning your website should be seen as a reboot of your online properties as well. Watch The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign, and learn how to avoid creating a Phantom Menace when the Force Awakens for your website.

This is not the first reboot that JJ Abrams has helmed as visionary and director. We’ve got his incredibly successful treatments of the Star Trek franchise to consider as well.

Don’t Just Blow Things Up

The problem we have with the popular Responsive Web Design strategies is that you must change everything in order to create a “mobile-friendly” website. Responsive designs are programmed to make decisions about page content when smaller screens are encountered.

Many of these decisions are wrong, and we’ll cover them in our webinar.

Your responsive design may be creating the equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks, a figure hated perhaps more than Darth Vader himself. In the webinar, we’ll show you how what happens when redesigns go bad.

Bring Back Beloved Characters

Your website redesign isn’t about changing things. It’s about building on what currently works, adding to the experience.

George Lucas managed to work merchandisable characters R2-D2 and C-3PO into the prequels, as well as beloved Obi-Wan Kenobi. But these characters didn’t create the esprit décor that the original ensemble did. In Star Trek, Abrams brought back young versions of the entire ensemble: Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and even two Spocks. Chekov, Sulu and Uhura were thrown in for good measure.

Your website is an ensemble cast of pages and experiences. Your landing pages need to prime buyers to get through the subscription process. Your category pages have to drive visits to product pages that entice visitors to add to cart.

Huge amounts of data is available very cheaply. Use it to know what to keep or suffer the consequences.

Don’t Create Any Jar-Jars

You don't want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

You don’t want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

I’m sure George Lucas was certain that the Jar-Jar Binks character introduced in the Phantom Menace would be a beloved, merchandisable character. He was wrong. Abrams introduced Keenser, a (thankfully) silent alien who was Scotty’s sidekick in the first Star Trek reboot. However, he didn’t rely on this character for comedic relief nearly as much as Lucas did with Jar-Jar.

The cost to create the all-CGI Jar-Jar was huge, and probably took resources that could have been used elsewhere in the movie.

Unless you’re testing your way into your redesign, you are going to create some Jar-Jars in your redesign. These are features that you believe in, but that are rejected by your visitors. Don’t over-invest in these new experiences without testing them first.

Have A Reason for Radical Changes

Every website has return visitors. Your website, no matter how ugly you believe it to be, has visitors who feel at home there, enjoying a comfortable familiarity. They’ve invested the time to understand your site, to make it theirs. When you change it, they’ll be pissed.

These visitors need some rationale for your removal of familiar features and the addition of new ones. Avoid the pro-innovation bias, which is a tendency to change things because they are cool. Your returning visitors won’t think they are cool.

Is this little header animation really necessary? It's a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Even simple parallax animations are dangerous. It’s a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Don’t let your design firm add any “alien” features to your site. For example, parallax design causes animates to occur as your visitors scroll through the site. It’s the web equivalent of Jar-Jar.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites. Or the Jar-Jar Binks of the Web.

In the Webinar, we’ll show you how to find out what is and isn’t necessary in your particular redesign.

Add Segments

This ain't your father's Star Trek.

This ain’t your father’s Star Trek.

JJ Abrams brought whole new segments into the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. For Star Trek, he cast young heartthrobs Zak Quinto, Chris Pine,  and Zoe Saldana in key roles. This brought a younger, hipper audience to the Star Trek universe. Star Wars: The Force Awakens features females in key hero and villain roles.

Your website redesign should be about two things:

1. Keeping your existing visitor segments happy.

2. Engaging new segments that need what you offer.

There is no such thing as an “average visitor” to your site. Design should specifically target key segments. These segments should not just be demographic as much as needs based. Segment by device type, by geography, by whether they are at work or play, or by the kinds of search terms they are using. Target segments at different stages of your funnel.

The death of a redesign is guaranteed if you design for the “average” visitor or design for yourself. See below.

Avoid Executive Influence

Don't let your execs usurp your redesign.

Don’t let your execs usurp your redesign.

After several significant successes, J.J. Abrams has considerable freedom to do what he wants. He ignored all of George Lucas’s ideas for the new Star Wars movie and took it in his own direction.

The executives that you report to will want to have a say in the redesign. Statements like, “I would never respond to that!” are poisonous to the process, unless you site is targeted at them.

Abrams didn’t get such freedom until he had a win under his belt. Your ace in the whole is research and data. If your redesign is questioned, you better have the studies, heatmaps, split test, and analytics you need to make your case.

If you don’t have this information, you’re not likely to have a success anyway. You may want your executives to attend our webinar.

Lens Flair Comes Last

Only after you’ve considered all of these key issues can you put your own unique stamp on the site design. Abrams has a thing for lens flair in his movies.

But none of this means anything unless you have beloved features in your new site, avoid adding Jar-Jar Binks experiences and address your visitors segment by segment.

Attend our free Webinar The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign and make sure your next redesign isn’t a Star Wars prequel.

If you’ve ever read the book The Design of Everyday Things you may recall one of the stories. It tells of a typist asked to evaluate the design of a new keyboard. She reported back to the keyboard designer that she liked the new design and didn’t find any faults with it. The designer asked if they could watch her use it. What they observed was that she kept making a particular typing error over and over again.
The new design had moved some keys around, so the typist kept hitting the wrong key. She was used to the old layout. When they asked her about it, she blamed herself and not the design because the key was clearly labeled.

I Blame Myself

A couple of weeks ago, my favorite artist released a new album. It’s always a long time in coming, so album release day felt like Christmas morning to me. I even woke up early, ready to download it and spend my whole morning listening to it.
After about a decade of not spending money on music, I decided 2015 is the year I wanted to start doing it again. This year I also bought Taylor Swift’s newest album and the soundtrack for a deeply cool movie, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. I bought both on Google Play, and as we mentioned in a different post, spending money on Google Play is distressingly easy.
When I went to work buying Joanna Newsom’s latest, I expected a similarly unremarkable experience. I thought two taps to purchase and one tap to play would get the job done. But her album wasn’t for sale on Google Play, so I decided to buy it directly from her record label, Drag City.

Joanna Newsom's artist page was my first touchpoint with Drag City

Joanna Newsom’s artist page was my first touchpoint with Drag City


I couldn’t actually remember the name of her record label, so I got there by a search, and I bypassed the homepage entirely. My first impression of the page was positive but ultimately irrelevant since I knew that I would definitely be spending my money on this website regardless of my experience because I really wanted this album, and it wasn’t readily available everywhere.

Strategic Use of Invisibility

After a moment I saw that there isn’t a buy button anywhere on this page, nor are there any prices. Apparently, I needed to find a product page to get to that information. Like most people comfortable with technology, I scan and click links quickly and with little thought.
I ended up in a loop where I clicked “Joanna Newsom” two or three times before my brain caught up with my finger. I was just taking myself back to the same page over and over again.

I needed to find my way to the product page, but I kept ending up back on the artist page.

I needed to find my way to the product page, but I kept ending up back on the artist page.


The page I wanted was strategically hidden behind the album image and the name of the album. Despite the page’s every attempt, I made my way to the product page. This wasn’t to be the last time I felt sheepish.
Which download do I want?

Which download do I want?

This Product Page is FLACed Up

I already disclosed that I don’t buy music often (I’m more of a book and movie person), so maybe it’s unsurprising that I was caught off-guard by one of my purchase options: the FLAC Download. Is that a normal thing now? It better be because 1) I had to do a Google search to figure out whether I needed to adopt FLAC instead of MP3 and 2) I was irritated that I had to leave the website to find answers instead of Drag City just telling me on this screen.
Not everyone is going to find their way back like I did.
My search told me that I don’t care enough to know more about FLAC downloads to spend an extra dollar, so I selected MP3 and moved on to the next step.
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The Payment Method Shell Game

Technical errors are always a problem. In this case, the inconsistency happened in the all-important cart. Sometimes when I visited my cart, I was given the option to purchase with Paypal. Sometimes it wasn’t.

Option 1: No PayPal

Option 1: No PayPal


Option 2: Checkout with PayPal

Option 2: Checkout with PayPal


I saw both of these screens in the process of writing this article. If I didn’t feel like I absolutely needed this album right this instant, I would have just bailed without a PayPal option. For some people it’s the borrowed trust that the PayPal logo provides that would cause them to stay. If I have to get off my couch and find my credit card to buy something, I can probably live without it.
Since I was borderline desperate, I journeyed onward regardless, perhaps even going so far as to walk across the room to fetch my purse.

How to Treat Your Repeat Buyers Like Dirt

I had high hopes that I was almost done using this website when I got to this page.

I had high hopes that I was almost done using this website when I got to this page.


The first time I went through this process my purchase was a cinch. Replicating it for this post didn’t go the same way, however. The first time around I created a new account and moved on. I assumed it would be even more straightforward after I had my own account.
When I logged in with my new account, however, I wasn’t taken to the next step in the purchase process. I was taken to Drag City’s homepage.
So here is how they treat return buyers: Find music. Add music to cart. Click checkout. Login. Get sent back to the beginning.
I thought it was because I typed my password incorrectly. It felt like I had done something wrong. I felt bad. Being a returning customer is not nearly as easy as being a new one, apparently. I persevered.

Here’s Your Order. Not.

When I finally made it to the through to a screen thanking me for my purchase, I didn’t know what do from there. Where was my download? How was I going to be able to listen to my album? Had I just sent my ten bucks into cyberspace never to be seen again?
I searched through Drag City’s FAQs and even tried to find a customer forum where I could find the answer to those questions, but I came up with nothing. My emailed receipt also got me nowhere. I returned to the browser where I ended my purchase to see if I’d missed a message telling me what to do next, but that also left me empty-handed.
Me dumb. That is the message.
I ended up emailing their customer service to ask what was up, but I felt incredibly stupid about it. I felt self-conscious, like I’m sure my dad feels when he calls me for the seventh time to ask how to use his TV remote, but it seemed like the only option. And dang, after all it took to get there, I couldn’t just give up.
My story ends rather anticlimactically because about an hour later, I got an email back letting me know that I would receive my download via email, and I should please let them know if I didn’t receive it. I had indeed received it – but about ten minutes before customer service got back to me. It was weird.
It was great customer service with a quick response, but I prefer not to feel like an idiot, even if it results in a kind email from a stranger.
You may think it’s not fair to compare a small business website to an e-tail juggernaut like Amazon, but it is. If I had decided I didn’t want to support Drag City, using Amazon would have been so much easier. Amazon loves taking people’s money, and Drag City makes it feel like a burden.

My Amazon search result for the same album

My Amazon search result for the same album


Just my search result on Amazon gave me more information than Drag City’s entire Joanna Newsom page. And notice the “Available for download now” message. The last time I spent money on a digital download from Amazon was probably about five years ago when I purchased an episode of Vampire Diaries, and even that long ago, the whole process went very smoothly. I definitely didn’t have to wait an hour for an email.

Who is to blame for negative shopping experiences?

Re-living my buying experience in excruciating detail began to make me think “I don’t know why this bothered me at the time. It seems pretty obvious in hindsight.”
Some websites have very poor design, and users will openly criticize it, but others have design flaws that are subtle. After spending a few minutes using the navigation and thinking about the purpose of the page, a visitor will figure it out, but they may blame their own alleged stupidity for being slow on the uptake.
It’s one reason that self-reporting is so notoriously inaccurate: the reasons we think we behave a certain way aren’t always clear. It’s also why tools like heat maps are so eye-opening. It’s also why I was mad that I got up early on Nerdy-Christmas Morning only to have this experience be the thing that woke me up.
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Feature image by greg westfall. via Compfight cc and adapted for this post.

In a previous article, we looked at five examples of companies that had success using online quizzes. We’ve seen the end result to each of these success stories and the marketing strategies they incorporated along with their quizzes, but what about the journey they took to get there?
Without the proper guide, creating an effective quiz like those highlighted in the first article can seem intimidating.
Following is a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the creative process behind quizzes with the help of a case study.
Throughout this article, we’ll examine The Elephant Pants and their quiz “Which Pair of Elephant Pants Are You?” We’ll give you some pointers on how to distribute a quiz and how to use marketing automation follow-ups to convert leads into paying customers.
Let’s get right to it.

Part I: How To Create A Quiz To Drive Online Sales

In the early stages of their company’s lifespan, The Elephant Pants brand relied on the fundraising support of a Kickstarter campaign. They created a quiz titled “Which Pair of Elephant Pants Are You?” with personalized results that recommended a specific kind of product to their customers, in this case, a particular kind of Elephant Pants.
The Elephant Pants included a link to their Kickstarter campaign to encourage customers to fund their project, additionally opting them in for updates and any new developments on the brand. By the end of their campaign, The Elephant Pants’ quiz helped them raise over $8,500 which was enough for a successful launch.

The Elephant Pants' quiz helped bring in the support of enough backers to launch their company

The Elephant Pants’ quiz helped bring in the support of enough backers to launch their company


Here’s what it takes to create a similar quiz that can help any online retailer make the most out of social media to help drive their e-commerce sales:

The Idea Online Quiz Title

Most pieces of interactive content start off as an idea, correct? The same applies for the idea behind your quiz. In The Elephant Pants’ case, their quiz revolves around recommending the perfect pair of Elephant Pants for everyone.
The Elephant Pants modeled their questions on relatable places, objects and activities to get a sense of your style, attributing it to the most suitable pair of pants for you.

This quiz question is full of relatable images that are associated with different personalities

This quiz question is full of relatable images that are associated with different personalities


So when it comes to your quiz, make it about something your brand is known for. Once you’ve got that sorted out, here are some ideas for the types of quiz you can go for:

        

  1. Product Recommendation Quiz -This type of quiz revolves around a single product recommendation based on the answers a quiz-taker gave. It allows you to suggest a single product tailored specifically to an individual based on their personal preferences. This is perfect if you want to sell a single type of product. The Elephant Pants used this kind of a quiz to recommend a particular kind of Elephant Pants to each and every person that took their quiz.
    The Elephant Pants created a Product Recommendation Quiz

    The Elephant Pants created a Product Recommendation Quiz

  2.     

  3. Style Personality Quiz – This kind of a quiz is centered around the idea of categorizing people into a certain style personality. This allows you to recommend multiple items that fit a quiz-taker’s description of what their style personality is based on the questions they answered in your quiz.

Craft Your Online Quiz Questions

We’ve reached the body of your online quiz. This is where you want to establish a connection with your customer base through a one-on-one medium. Communicate with them through your quiz, but keep these things in mind when creating your questions:

        

  • Inject Personality Into Your Quiz – Put a part of you into the quiz, have it become a representation of you and your brand. Don’t be afraid to speak to your quiz-taker as if you were talking to them in person. Let the questions become as personal as possible.
  •     

  • Utilize Images To Your Advantage – If you haven’t noticed already, a lot of the more popular quizzes use images. Make sure that you do too. Pictures keeps things fun and relevant; and they make the quiz feel more like a game show if anything. The Elephant Pants used fun and familiar images to let their quiz-takers get comfortable which helps in encouraging opt-ins later on.
    This question relies solely on images

    This question relies solely on images

  •     

  • Make Sure To Keep Things Short And Simple – Using between 6 to 10 questions is the sweet spot when it comes to the length of your quiz. People’s attention spans are short, so let’s keep our quiz the same way. The Elephant Pants excelled in this category by keeping their quiz at 5 questions.
    This quiz is short - only five questions long - and notes where you are in the quiz at the bottom of the page.

    This quiz is short – only five questions long – and notes where you are in the quiz at the bottom of the page.

Add Lead Capture To Your Online Quiz

Creating a lead capture form and placing it right before the online quiz results builds an email list of subscribers to target by email.
The Elephant Pants were more focused on driving their fundraiser, but most businesses will employ a lead capture form. Here are some things to take note of when creating your own lead capture:

        

  • Promise Value To Your Customers – Incentivize your lead capture to give your audience more than just their results. Throw in things like a free contest giveaway entry, a free resource like an e-book or e-magazine, coupons/discounts, or even just personalized advice.
  •     

  • Make Sure You’re Honest With Your Marketing Strategy – Be honest about your marketing strategy by telling your audience exactly what they’re opting in for. If you’re going to send infrequent emails to your customers, make sure they know about it.
  •     

  • Only Ask For What’s Needed – When it comes to the information that you request via your lead capture, only ask for information that you will actually use. For example, don’t ask for a phone number if you’re not going to call it.

Create Share-Worthy Results For Your Quiz

As important as the questions and the lead capture form are, the results to your quiz have an equally large impact on your audience. This is the part of your quiz that gets shared on social media, so you want to make sure it’s worth sharing and appealing enough to encourage others to take your quiz.
Here are some pointers to help you out with that:

        

  • Come Up With Positive, Truthful Results – Positive results means positive emotions, which in turn generate shares. Compliment your quiz-takers with their results, but be truthful about it.
  •     

  • Use Attention Grabbing Images For Your Results – When people post their results on social media, the results are usually accompanied with an image. Include relevant images with your results to attract more people. In The Elephant Pants’ results, they use an image of the perfect pair of pants for you.
    A flattering quiz result increases interest in buying this pair of pants and the likelihood of the result being shared

    A flattering quiz result increases interest in buying this pair of pants and the likelihood of the result being shared

  •     

  • Lead Your Quiz-Takers To Something More – Your interaction with your audience shouldn’t end at the result screen to your quiz, it shouldn’t be as long as a paragraph either. Keep your results down to 3-5 sentences and include a personalized link to a specific product or a group of products. The Elephant Pants originally included a link to their Kickstarter to help fund the project, but after launching, their results now include a direct link to the pants that you got.
    Your quiz result takes you to a product page like this one

    Your quiz result takes you to a product page like this one

Part II: How To Distribute Your Quiz On Social Media

After creating your quiz, you’re not just going to let it sit there and wait for people to take it. You have to take action, and by action, I mean distributing your quiz across social media for it to be taken and shared.
Here are some good practices to follow when sharing your quiz:

Allow Your Results To Be Shared On Facebook And Twitter

        

  1. Use a captivating image to represent your quiz.
  2.     

  3. Come up with an attention-grabbing headline.
  4.     

  5. Share both the image and the caption with a shortened link to track results.

Use Paid Advertising To Promote Your Quizzes

Promoting your quiz on Facebook is fairly lengthy process, so we’ll cut it right down to its basics so that you can get on with the promotion of your quiz as quickly as possible.

        

  • Selecting Your Target Audience – You can select your target audience via location, demographics, interests, behaviors and connections. Each category can be narrowed down even further. For example, if you chose location as your way of targeting, it can be broken down to country, state/province, city and zip code depending on how close you want your audience to be.
  •     

  • Create A Custom Audience – Facebook allows you to create a custom audience based on a pre-existing list that you’ve uploaded. Facebook can generate a custom audience similar to your current customer base.

Part III: How To Utilize Marketing Automation To Follow Up And Drive Revenue

Picking up from where left off with your lead capture, once you’ve obtained some leads, your job is to convert them into paying customers. You can warm these leads up by keeping them interested through a series of marketing automation emails. Warm your leads up by keeping them interested with a series of marketing automation emails.
Here’s a four-step follow-up sequence that you can use:

        

  1. Thank Your Audience For Taking Your Online Quiz – The first step you need to take is to thank your audience for taking your quiz. It reminds them that they opted-in in the first place, and it also asserts your brand. Skipping this step is the difference between someone being reminded of who you are, versus someone that regards your email as a form of spam. Don’t forget this step!
  2.     

  3. Recommend Other Possible Outcomes for Your Quiz – After a couple of days, send your audience a list of other possible results they could have gotten through your quiz. It keeps the audience engaged and interested, and may prompt several retakes of the quiz as well. It’s a natural but relevant transition from your original “thank you” email to sending out other content.
  4.     

  5. Share Some Customer Case Studies Or Testimonials – After about a week, send another email that showcases customer case studies or testimonials. This helps to build up trust with your potential customers, especially if you target them based on the result they got.
  6.     

  7. Close The Sale – The final step. After two weeks, it’s time to finally convert your leads into customers. Use incentives like coupons/discounts or a webinar signup to close the deal. Give your audience a reason to buy into your brand.

Recap And Takeaway

And that’s it! The last time we met, we went over five different brands that implemented their own strategies in conjunction with quizzes to personalize the online retail experience. This time, we provided you with a guide on how to create your own quiz.
We broke down the quiz creating process from the idea formulation to title choices, question crafting to lead capture forms, and finally how to create shareable results. After getting the basics of a quiz down, we highlight several ways to promote your quiz through social media. Lastly, we went over marketing automation follow-up to nurture your leads and convert them into customers.
Hopefully you can walk away with quite a bit from today’s article. Creating a quiz isn’t as complex as you think it might be, but successfully utilizing one and promoting it is a different story. This guide gives you a solid foundation, so take advantage of it and use it for your brand’s success.

About the Author

JP Misenas headshotJP Misenas is the content marketing director and audio/visual technician/engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional long-lasting relationships with them.

Are your PPC ads plaid and your landing pages polka dots? That is, are your PPC ads and landing pages in alignment? Check out these great tips and maximize conversions.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be a highly effective way to get your products in front of new prospective customers and drive sales, but only when campaigns are set up with the right touch. Depending on what keywords you want to target with your bids, search ads are generally not prohibitively expensive, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of blowing through your budget on PPC without justifying your media spend with enough sales.

The PPC management mistakes that most commonly ruin advertisers’ chances of respectable ROI involve text mismatches. All too often, an ad’s keyword settings do not match the language used in the ad’s creative, or the landing page content does not match the language used in the ad’s creative.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Search marketing spending in the US from 2014 to 2019.

Why Matching Terminology Matters

If you’re not matching terminology on your landing page to your PPC ads, you’re wasting money and losing clients.

Successful PPC marketing hinges on continuity across all touch points. Web searchers enter search terms into Google based on a need they are trying to fulfill. By the time users have formulated their queries as lines of text, they have already been forced to think about what they’re looking for as being specific to certain terminology. Thus, if your message is going to resonate with them, it has to use the very same terminology.

Google users naturally gravitate towards organic search results. To catch people’s eyes, your ad needs to convey that it addresses the exact issue that the searcher is trying to solve. What’s more, search terms that appear within ad copy appear in bold letters, adding to their visibility and click-throughs.

When people click on the ad, they are expecting to find a matching solution on the other end. You know that dirty feeling you get when you click on a content headline that over-promises and the article ultimately under-delivers? That’s a similar feeling to what happens when there’s a disconnect between search ad copy and landing page copy.

When you get that feeling, you’re unlikely to do business with whoever gave it to you. And that’s why it’s so important that the landing page refer to the exact need at hand and offer an appropriate solution, all using the same terminology. This is one of those landing page best practices that tends to be right every single time.

PPC Ads and Landing Pages in Alignment: The Power of Maximized Continuity

Lack of continuity will result in customers leaving your conversion funnel before opting in to your lead capture offer or purchasing your products.

If a customer searches for “cyan polo shirt summer sale” and you show him an ad for “men’s clothing,” he is not likely to click on it, even though your online store might very well offer cyan polo shirts in the men’s section. Even ad creative touting a “blue polo shirt” product won’t perform as well as the phrase “cyan polo shirt” would – the closer to an exact match you can get, the more effective your ads will be.

PPC ads and landing pages in alignment: Use the word "cyan" to describe the color of this shirt, not just "blue".

Use the word “cyan” to describe the color of this shirt, not just “blue”.

The same principle applies to matching ad copy with landing page copy. If your ad promises a “cyan polo shirt summer sale” but you send people to your homepage, where there are 25 different apparel products being showcased and no trace of any type of sale, the visitor is likely to bounce out extremely quickly.

Customized Ecommerce Text Variations

Using standardized language across your website is necessary to maintain an atmosphere of professional polish and so that your internal search engine will work well. On the other hand, when you set up your search ad campaigns, you should be performing some extensive keyword research to reveal all of the alternate wording that people use for the same thing.

Going back to the same example, you may learn that people often search for polo shirts that are “sapphire,” “teal,” or “turquoise,” which are all reasonably close matches to the “cyan” that appears on your product pages. It totally makes sense to bid on ads to appear on search results for “sapphire polo shirt,” but in cases like these, you may want to create alternate versions of your product pages that only visitors referred by this specific ad will see.

Just make sure to keep these variations out of sight of the search engines, so you won’t get penalized for duplicate content – and out of sight in the website navigation, so visitors do not get confused. Apply a meta “No Index” tag to the head of the landing page to make sure that variations don’t get indexed. Better yet, make sure all your PPC ad campaign landing pages are noindex, follow. Until you have chosen the one you would like to drive organic traffic to.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

A helpful tool in this process is a Google Adwords feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). This tool will adjust your ad text to reflect keywords in the user’s search, potentially accomplishing the same goals we just discussed.

Wordstream ran a case study testing the effectiveness of DKI with a client, and found that using this strategy had the following results:

  • Impressions dropped 6%
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) increased by 55%
  • Conversions increased by an incredible 228%
DKI more than tripled conversions.

DKI more than tripled conversions.

The results speak for themselves.

In the context of continuity, the key is to have a very small number of keywords in your ad groups. For top performers, you may even want to use Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS).

Customized Lead Capture Page Variations

If your offer is for a service, a B2B product or something otherwise relatively expensive, then you don’t need to send visitors to ecommerce-integrated product pages at all. In these cases, a sparser landing page is likely to perform better, and it’s easy and inexpensive to create new versions of your landing pages for each keyword combination that you bid for.

Landing pages like these are generally aimed at capturing leads rather than driving sales, since major purchases require more pre-sale relationship building to establish trust and to educate prospects. Many of the better marketing platforms available in the open market offer modules for both landing page creation and autoresponder marketing emails.

If lead capture is your goal, focus your Adwords strategy on your prospects’ pain points rather than your offer’s specifications. For instance, a financial consulting firm could run PPC ads for the search term “family budgeting help” or “debt advice.” These ads could lead to landing page variations for each search term, with each one offering visitors the option to download an eBook that provides practical tips on family budgeting and saving money on household bills.

A campaign of this type takes into account that the prospect is having trouble balancing his or her household budget, and it offers a quick and easy solution that also positions the advertiser as a trustworthy expert in the field of family finance. This paves the way for follow-up messaging.

Another benefit of this type of hyper-specific targeting is that it allows marketers to segment the entire customer journey and serve up nurturing emails that match the subscriber’s specific interests. A post-campaign analysis of the relevant conversion data can reveal which segments represent the advertiser’s most valuable customers, thereby informing subsequent marketing strategies.

Doesn’t Have to Be a Bottomless Pit

You do need a landing page for every important ad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should set up hundreds of landing pages. Instead, focus your campaign on a select number of lead nurture audience personas (three or four) and create an ad that’s optimized to speak to each one of them. Create a unique landing page for each of these ads and set up an autoresponder to send follow-up emails with relevant content to each persona.

If you’re marketing an ecommerce property with a diverse product line and a shopping cart system, start by trying these tactics for just a few products. If it serves you well, then you can focus on making your work flow scalable down the road.

PPC campaigns that are set up for maximum terminology variations are likely to enjoy boosted conversion rates and revenues, so that ad dollars are less likely to go to waste.

Keep improving your paid ads: Google Ad Extensions to Improve your Customer Acquisition Efforts

Graph image by Statista (via Skitch)

Retail season is just three months away.  Surprise!
Come again?! Yes it’s true. Between the months of November and late December, many businesses who generate significant profit online will experience an increase in traffic and (hopefully) sales.
How do you know if your website is fully prepared to take full advantage of the holiday rush? Instead of Santa Claus loading up his sleigh with merchandise from your warehouse, you could see an increase in shopping cart abandonment, low sales, and a whole lot of tears in your eggnog.
Most online businesses generate the majority of the year’s profit during the holiday season. This can make ecommmerce sites a little nervous. Business managers get conservative, locking down the site and taking no risks for months before the blessed start of the shopping season.
They seem to be just waiting until the season is over with their eyes closed, praying to the retail gods that things will go well.
Don’t be that guy this year. Pick the right strategies to optimize in time for retail season. Here’s how some of the top online retailers prepare for the rush of retail season. These are high-stakes, low risk ideas that you can put in place before Black Friday darkens the holiday sun.

Idea One: Don’t Jump Into A Total Site Redesign

Many businesses think they have to change with the holiday seasons. The fact of the matter is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What you think is broke is often perfect to your visitors.
Instead, enhance what’s already been working on your website. Brian Massey said it best himself last Christmas. In the weeks before the holidays he realized his house was still decorated for Halloween.
Rather than taking down his skeletons and spending money on new decorations, he took a more creative approach. He added a special twist of his own to the unique decor. When his 17-year old daughter and her friends came by the house, he received positive reviews and praise. Remember, the opinion of your visitor matters the most.

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

Idea Two: Identify Where You Get Conversions and Leads

We work with many eCommerce companies from high-end jewelry and gloves to furniture sales. Our job is to analyze this behavior and data to best optimize your online business. The Channel Report in Google Analytics helps us locate streamlined conversions and where clients see significant sales by traffic source. With the Overview section, you can make an Advanced Segment to locate which specific sites are the source of your leads and how those leads navigate your website to become a customer.
Let’s say we want to focus on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social efforts. Here’s how we set up one advanced segments:

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to better analyze site conversions.

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to analyze site conversions better.


Now that you know where your conversions are coming from, you need to understand what components on your site aid in these conversions. If we want to see how one of each of our landing pages performed, we would create an Advanced Segment that highlights our goal URL. This will help us determine which landing pages converted best. Perhaps your home page needs to be better optimized, or maybe you can cut back on ads that deliver unfavorable results.
We can also gather data on which devices lead to more conversions, whether visitors are new, and how many sessions each channel produces. It’s important to understand the type of traffic comes to your site, how visitors move through your site, and which features deliver the most conversions. This data will help you better craft your next step in prepping your eCommerce strategy.
[sitepromo]

Step Three: Lay Out Your Conversion Roadmap and Retargeting Ads

I was recently asked to be a groomsman for my best friend’s wedding. Great, I thought. Bachelor parties, booze, and a whole lot of money down the toilet. We recently had a fitting at The Mens Wearhouse. Look at us! Aren’t we a great bunch of guys?

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend's wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend’s wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.


After all was said and done, we decided to not to rent shoes for $20. Think about it: that’s almost the price of half a decent shoe. Since most guys can use a good new pair of shoes, we decided to check out several online shoe stores to find the right style and avoid another brutal trip to the mall. Let’s be real, no one enjoys shopping with six other dudes that have absolutely no sense of style.
We scoured the web and came upon a pair of great looking shoes on Nordstrom.com, but we said no to purchasing. They were just too expensive.
The Retail Giant, however, was kind enough to fill my Facebook Newsfeed with wonderful retargeting ads. Thanks a lot for the added temptation.
After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.

After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.


Did I mention that we were shopping for a “wingtip” style shoe. This fact wasn’t lost on Nordstrom. They tracked my shopping activity and knew what I was looking for. Since my initial search on their website just didn’t ring up a sale, they decided to retarget me with a similar wingtip shoe that was significantly marked down in price.
Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.

Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.


Had this shoe been in the wedding party’s price range, we would have definitely been a customer. It fits the motif of the overall look for the wedding and is a killer shoe. It’s also discounted, a big plus.
But wait, there’s even more to this landing page. Drumroll please. Nordstrom included a “People Also Viewed” section on the right of this page, listing two additional wingtip style shoes in a more affordable price range. Well done guys, well done. Unfortunately for Nordstrom we were still too cheap to buy, but it was still a solid effort.
Remember to lay out exactly how you will navigate a variety of customers through your funnel. Think of your email subscribers, returning visitors, new visitors, and don’t forget your impulse buyers.
Once you’ve segmented your visitors, analyze their behavior. Did they convert? Which items did they purchase? What was their overall spend? By knowing these key statistics, you can craft better retargeting ads and email offers that resonate with their buying habits. What kind of ads will you be showing site visitors, customers, or shoppers who abandoned their cart? Nordstrom.com knows their stuff. Now how can you turn lost opportunities into sales?

Idea Four: Brainstorm High Converting Lead Generating Campaigns

You need some ammunition for retail season that brings in new customers and sales. Early fall is a great time for executing high converting lead generating campaigns. We’re talking giveaways, contests, and special offers. Since web optimization is a given for increasing conversions, we’re going to talk about email list building campaigns for leads.
Let’s take another look at our friends at Nordstrom.com. I noticed they were having a special giveaway on their site. It didn’t look obnoxious like some online giveaways, and I was intrigued by the red letters at the top left corner of the site that said “Want a $1,000 Gift Card?” YES. I DO. So I clicked on it.

Screenshot 2015-07-22 01.07.43

Click the red letters! Win money.


Once I checked out the official rules, I was taken to an additional landing page to sign up for the giveaway.
Screenshot 2015-07-20 19.49.31

Keep your giveaways simple. Too many rules or procedures turn people away.


This contest has a very particular call-to-action: write a review on one of their products you’ve purchased. Once entered, I was sent an email with a CTA to continue shopping. Campaigns like this are simple to generate a moderate lead flow and are rather common.
Be creative with your giveaways. Don’t make the contest too complicated, and always offer an incentive to those who enter, like a special coupon. They are not likely to win, but you will, especially since you’ve given them a reason to buy.
Again, you want your email list to be as fat as possible come the holiday season, especially if you find that your list converts higher than your site traffic.

Idea Five: Structure Your Email Blast With Offers and Take Leads Through Your Funnel

Spend some time thinking about how to dial up the value on your email blasts for the holidays. People who give you their email address are inviting you to their already very full inbox, so make the most of it. There are lots of ways to do it and many elements to email marketing. The offers below can translate into high converting emails: which tactic would work with your business?

A New Arrival

Some shoppers love to splurge on the latest and greatest. Add this to the top of your email. Perhaps even include it in the email subject line. Local Austin jeweler Kendra Scott has a unique approach to their email blasts. In this email we see the new arrival promo at the top.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott's new Mystic Bazaar collection.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott’s new Mystic Bazaar collection.


Now what if customers aren’t interested in buying anything new? Although we commend Kendra Scott for featuring new arrivals at the top of their email, the flow becomes rather confusing after that. It’s literally a maze of jewelry! I found it difficult to look at additional products and offers.
Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!

Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!


See what I mean? Focusing on a subset of customers who are likely to convert is a great idea, but your entire email needs to be easy to navigate or it’s a waste of space.

A Bestseller

You know this product will sell with or without a marked down price. You can sell this product with your eyes closed, so why not include it in the email? Having analyzed countless email blasts from CountryOutfitter.com, I was surprised to know that they continuously included a new pair of boots in their campaign. Repetition can be a good thing for sales.

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

Theme Your Emails

I once tried to get a job at a high end furniture store fresh out of college and was lucky enough to be invited to interview for a marketing position. It was a very fancy and expensive store. Who wouldn’t want to spend $10,000 on a dining room table made from reclaimed Grecian wood?
An important lesson I learned from that interview was how furniture salesmen increase their commissions by including add-ons that compliment the purchase, from furniture displays to the final sales pitch.
“Would you also like some table lamps, a rug, and perhaps this painting of a naked man to compliment your one-of-a-kind love seat from Romania?”
Someone willing to drop a small (or medium) fortune on a couch is likely to be willing to drop even more to make sure the couch isn’t sitting in an empty living room – or worse, a living room where the other decor doesn’t match the couch.  That’s where the money comes from.
Here’s a great example of how one online retailer themes their email blasts similarly to furniture store displays. This particular campaign was all about skulls.
Screenshot 2015-07-22 16.45.15
And you can’t buy a skull sweater without getting the matching purse and mug. Do you really want to be the fool with the skull sweater drinking out a cat mug and carrying a hobo bag?  Absolutely not.

You must purchase the matching accessories!

You must purchase the matching accessories!


Even better, every item in this email is 20% off. HotTopic, eat your heart out.

A Coupon Code or Free Shipping

Adding a coupon code or a free shipping incentive (like “get $50 off a purchase of $100 or more” or “free shipping when you spend $50”) will help visitors spend a specific amount of money or help them purchase an item that is designed to be a quick money maker.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

A Promotional Story

For those brands engaged in a content strategy, adding a promotional story to an email blast can help drive serious traffic. Here’s how a competitor of CountryOutfitter.com sent their email blast the day Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their divorce. They used a headline announcing the divorce in their email subject line, along with a photo of the couple at the top of the email.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.


This email was more than just the Country Music story of the day. When visitors opened the breaking news email, this retailer included a CTA to shop above the story, and free shipping for all orders $75 or more.
Below the breaking news image was a “Shop Now” image directing traffic to a product page. Although this traffic may not be interested in shopping and would much rather read up on Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, you can still segment this surge in traffic for retargeting ads (remember the Nordstrom.com example?).

Step Six: Give Your Leads A Reason To Return To Your Website

Set an expiration date to your coupons, create limited time offers, or activate that retargeting ad that will make visitors come back for more. One of the most interesting findings I came across while gathering data for this post was a feature on RebelCircus.com. At the top of the site, there was a ticker that gave shoppers exactly one hour to use a coupon and make a purchase.

You've got 1 hour to make a purchase! The agony.

You’ve got one hour to make a purchase! The agony.


When I returned to the site, the clock was still ticking. I was kind of afraid my computer would blow up if I didn’t purchase one of their skull t-shirts. They definitely get a thumbs up for creating a sense of urgency when shopping.

Idea Seven: Gather Data From Your Campaign, Analyze It, and Prep For Next Year

This can be the fun part, or the not so fun part, depending on how the season went. Gather your data from Google Analytics. Dissect the info and highlight the pros and cons of your retail campaigns. Where did you see more conversions, email signups, and social media engagement, and how did this affect your overall strategy?
Your marketing plan should always continue to change and refine itself over the seasons. Your approach this year should be a lot different from next year’s. But when you just can’t get the answers right, or no longer have the time to optimize give Conversion Sciences a call. We’d be happy to bring good tidings of joy to your business this Holiday Season.e was still decorated for Halloween.
Rather than taking down his skeletons and spending money on new decorations, he took a more creative approach. He added a special twist of his own to the unique decor. When his 17-year old daughter and her friends came by the house, he received positive reviews and praise. Remember, the opinion of your visitor matters the most.

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

Idea Two: Identify Where You Get Conversions and Leads

We work with many eCommerce companies from high-end jewelry and gloves to furniture sales. Our job is to analyze this behavior and data to best optimize your online business. The Channel Report in Google Analytics helps us locate streamlined conversions and where clients see significant sales by traffic source. With the Overview section, you can make an Advanced Segment to locate which specific sites are the source of your leads and how those leads navigate your website to become a customer.
Let’s say we want to focus on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social efforts. Here’s how we set up one advanced segments:

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to better analyze site conversions.

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to analyze site conversions better.


Now that you know where your conversions are coming from, you need to understand what components on your site aid in these conversions. If we want to see how one of each of our landing pages performed, we would create an Advanced Segment that highlights our goal URL. This will help us determine which landing pages converted best. Perhaps your home page needs to be better optimized, or maybe you can cut back on ads that deliver unfavorable results.
We can also gather data on which devices lead to more conversions, whether visitors are new, and how many sessions each channel produces. It’s important to understand the type of traffic comes to your site, how visitors move through your site, and which features deliver the most conversions. This data will help you better craft your next step in prepping your eCommerce strategy.
[sitepromo]

Step Three: Lay Out Your Conversion Roadmap and Retargeting Ads

I was recently asked to be a groomsman for my best friend’s wedding. Great, I thought. Bachelor parties, booze, and a whole lot of money down the toilet. We recently had a fitting at The Mens Wearhouse. Look at us! Aren’t we a great bunch of guys?

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend's wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend’s wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.


After all was said and done, we decided to not to rent shoes for $20. Think about it: that’s almost the price of half a decent shoe. Since most guys can use a good new pair of shoes, we decided to check out several online shoe stores to find the right style and avoid another brutal trip to the mall. Let’s be real, no one enjoys shopping with six other dudes that have absolutely no sense of style.
We scoured the web and came upon a pair of great looking shoes on Nordstrom.com, but we said no to purchasing. They were just too expensive.
The Retail Giant, however, was kind enough to fill my Facebook Newsfeed with wonderful retargeting ads. Thanks a lot for the added temptation.
After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.

After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.


Did I mention that we were shopping for a “wingtip” style shoe. This fact wasn’t lost on Nordstrom. They tracked my shopping activity and knew what I was looking for. Since my initial search on their website just didn’t ring up a sale, they decided to retarget me with a similar wingtip shoe that was significantly marked down in price.
Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.

Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.


Had this shoe been in the wedding party’s price range, we would have definitely been a customer. It fits the motif of the overall look for the wedding and is a killer shoe. It’s also discounted, a big plus.
But wait, there’s even more to this landing page. Drumroll please. Nordstrom included a “People Also Viewed” section on the right of this page, listing two additional wingtip style shoes in a more affordable price range. Well done guys, well done. Unfortunately for Nordstrom we were still too cheap to buy, but it was still a solid effort.
Remember to lay out exactly how you will navigate a variety of customers through your funnel. Think of your email subscribers, returning visitors, new visitors, and don’t forget your impulse buyers.
Once you’ve segmented your visitors, analyze their behavior. Did they convert? Which items did they purchase? What was their overall spend? By knowing these key statistics, you can craft better retargeting ads and email offers that resonate with their buying habits. What kind of ads will you be showing site visitors, customers, or shoppers who abandoned their cart? Nordstrom.com knows their stuff. Now how can you turn lost opportunities into sales?

Idea Four: Brainstorm High Converting Lead Generating Campaigns

You need some ammunition for retail season that brings in new customers and sales. Early fall is a great time for executing high converting lead generating campaigns. We’re talking giveaways, contests, and special offers. Since web optimization is a given for increasing conversions, we’re going to talk about email list building campaigns for leads.
Let’s take another look at our friends at Nordstrom.com. I noticed they were having a special giveaway on their site. It didn’t look obnoxious like some online giveaways, and I was intrigued by the red letters at the top left corner of the site that said “Want a $1,000 Gift Card?” YES. I DO. So I clicked on it.

Screenshot 2015-07-22 01.07.43

Click the red letters! Win money.


Once I checked out the official rules, I was taken to an additional landing page to sign up for the giveaway.
Screenshot 2015-07-20 19.49.31

Keep your giveaways simple. Too many rules or procedures turn people away.


This contest has a very particular call-to-action: write a review on one of their products you’ve purchased. Once entered, I was sent an email with a CTA to continue shopping. Campaigns like this are simple to generate a moderate lead flow and are rather common.
Be creative with your giveaways. Don’t make the contest too complicated, and always offer an incentive to those who enter, like a special coupon. They are not likely to win, but you will, especially since you’ve given them a reason to buy.
Again, you want your email list to be as fat as possible come the holiday season, especially if you find that your list converts higher than your site traffic.

Idea Five: Structure Your Email Blast With Offers and Take Leads Through Your Funnel

Spend some time thinking about how to dial up the value on your email blasts for the holidays. People who give you their email address are inviting you to their already very full inbox, so make the most of it. There are lots of ways to do it and many elements to email marketing. The offers below can translate into high converting emails: which tactic would work with your business?

A New Arrival

Some shoppers love to splurge on the latest and greatest. Add this to the top of your email. Perhaps even include it in the email subject line. Local Austin jeweler Kendra Scott has a unique approach to their email blasts. In this email we see the new arrival promo at the top.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott's new Mystic Bazaar collection.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott’s new Mystic Bazaar collection.


Now what if customers aren’t interested in buying anything new? Although we commend Kendra Scott for featuring new arrivals at the top of their email, the flow becomes rather confusing after that. It’s literally a maze of jewelry! I found it difficult to look at additional products and offers.
Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!

Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!


See what I mean? Focusing on a subset of customers who are likely to convert is a great idea, but your entire email needs to be easy to navigate or it’s a waste of space.

A Bestseller

You know this product will sell with or without a marked down price. You can sell this product with your eyes closed, so why not include it in the email? Having analyzed countless email blasts from CountryOutfitter.com, I was surprised to know that they continuously included a new pair of boots in their campaign. Repetition can be a good thing for sales.

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

Theme Your Emails

I once tried to get a job at a high end furniture store fresh out of college and was lucky enough to be invited to interview for a marketing position. It was a very fancy and expensive store. Who wouldn’t want to spend $10,000 on a dining room table made from reclaimed Grecian wood?
An important lesson I learned from that interview was how furniture salesmen increase their commissions by including add-ons that compliment the purchase, from furniture displays to the final sales pitch.
“Would you also like some table lamps, a rug, and perhaps this painting of a naked man to compliment your one-of-a-kind love seat from Romania?”
Someone willing to drop a small (or medium) fortune on a couch is likely to be willing to drop even more to make sure the couch isn’t sitting in an empty living room – or worse, a living room where the other decor doesn’t match the couch.  That’s where the money comes from.
Here’s a great example of how one online retailer themes their email blasts similarly to furniture store displays. This particular campaign was all about skulls.
Screenshot 2015-07-22 16.45.15
And you can’t buy a skull sweater without getting the matching purse and mug. Do you really want to be the fool with the skull sweater drinking out a cat mug and carrying a hobo bag?  Absolutely not.

You must purchase the matching accessories!

You must purchase the matching accessories!


Even better, every item in this email is 20% off. HotTopic, eat your heart out.

A Coupon Code or Free Shipping

Adding a coupon code or a free shipping incentive (like “get $50 off a purchase of $100 or more” or “free shipping when you spend $50”) will help visitors spend a specific amount of money or help them purchase an item that is designed to be a quick money maker.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

A Promotional Story

For those brands engaged in a content strategy, adding a promotional story to an email blast can help drive serious traffic. Here’s how a competitor of CountryOutfitter.com sent their email blast the day Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their divorce. They used a headline announcing the divorce in their email subject line, along with a photo of the couple at the top of the email.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.


This email was more than just the Country Music story of the day. When visitors opened the breaking news email, this retailer included a CTA to shop above the story, and free shipping for all orders $75 or more.
Below the breaking news image was a “Shop Now” image directing traffic to a product page. Although this traffic may not be interested in shopping and would much rather read up on Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, you can still segment this surge in traffic for retargeting ads (remember the Nordstrom.com example?).

Step Six: Give Your Leads A Reason To Return To Your Website

Set an expiration date to your coupons, create limited time offers, or activate that retargeting ad that will make visitors come back for more. One of the most interesting findings I came across while gathering data for this post was a feature on RebelCircus.com. At the top of the site, there was a ticker that gave shoppers exactly one hour to use a coupon and make a purchase.

You've got 1 hour to make a purchase! The agony.

You’ve got one hour to make a purchase! The agony.


When I returned to the site, the clock was still ticking. I was kind of afraid my computer would blow up if I didn’t purchase one of their skull t-shirts. They definitely get a thumbs up for creating a sense of urgency when shopping.

Idea Seven: Gather Data From Your Campaign, Analyze It, and Prep For Next Year

This can be the fun part, or the not so fun part, depending on how the season went. Gather your data from Google Analytics. Dissect the info and highlight the pros and cons of your retail campaigns. Where did you see more conversions, email signups, and social media engagement, and how did this affect your overall strategy?
Your marketing plan should always continue to change and refine itself over the seasons. Your approach this year should be a lot different from next year’s. But when you just can’t get the answers right, or no longer have the time to optimize give Conversion Sciences a call. We’d be happy to bring good tidings of joy to your business this Holiday Season.

If you are anything like me, you’ve made your fair share impulsive purchases online.
Unlike trekking into brick-and-mortar, I never get on the Internet with the intent of pulling out my credit card. Yet, inevitably, I’ve got two food delivery subscriptions and a blouse from the JCrew factory store shipping out tomorrow.
Are your visitors like me? How much of your business comes from impulsive behavior?  Most importantly, are you converting your impulse visitors before their craving to buy passes?
In this post, I will show you how to quantify the number of impulse buyers on your site using Google Analytics, and I will also share strategies on how to get them to convert.

The Impulsive Buyer

We define an impulsive buyer as someone who is poised to take action. These are our spontaneous buyers, more likely to be relational than transactional. They may not be impulsive in life, but are behaving in their spontaneous mode on your site right now.
What makes an impulsive buyer impulsive?

        

  • They perceive the risk of taking action as low.
  •     

  • They perceive the value of taking action as high.
  •     

  • They perceive the cost of shopping as high.
  •     

  • FOMO: Fear of missing out may drive their behavior.
  •     

  • Familiarity with your products makes a purchase decision easy.
  •     

  • Repeat buyers simply restocking will act as if they are impulsive.

For these visitors, leaving a browsing session without having pulled the financial trigger is like leaving the confessional before they’ve received their prescription of penitential prayers. It’s a complete waste of time and fundamentally misses the point of the exercise.
For these buyers, you should dedicate a portion of your site to mitigating risk, building value, pointing the way to purchase, creating scarcity, and spelling out the facts.
[pullquote]Impulse buyers aren’t the crazed shoppers that can be found assaulting each other in the Walmart on Black Friday.[/pullquote] These buyers may be thoughtful and methodical in their approach. However, they will buy from someone today, unless no alternatives present themselves.
If they don’t buy from you now, they will most likely not return.

Finding Impulse Buyers in the Data

Impulse buyers don’t announce themselves upon arrival at your website, but they leave footprints in your digital sand. To start, we’re looking for those one-hit wonders, the drive-by shoppers. Google Analytics tracks this behavior for us with the “Time to Purchase” report.

Where to find time to purchase in Google Analytics

Where to find time to purchase in Google Analytics


Impluse buyers are, by definition, those visitors who purchase within their first visit. Thus, we want to know which transactions are completed on our site within a single session.
The number of sessions it takes to convert

The number of sessions it takes to convert


For an ecommerce website, a single-session percentage of more than 80% indicates that quick buying behavior is contributing to your overall conversion rate. You’re probably serving your impulse buyers well.
If single-session conversions make up less than 60% of your total transactions, one of two things is happening.

        

  1. You are selling something that methodical customers are going to purchase, such as appliances or a college education.

OR

        

  1. You are not satisfying the impulse-buyers’ craving before it passes.

Google Analytics makes it easy to track impulse buyers on your site. Create an advanced segment for those visitors who purchase in one session.

When you look at your Google Analytics reports through the lens of this segment you will see how impulse buyers are impacting your business.

Impulse Buyers (blue line) are a significant portion of all revenue (orange line) for this ecommerce business.

Impulse Buyers (blue line) are a significant portion of all revenue (orange line) for this ecommerce business.


Use this segment to answer other questions as well. In the graph below, it is clear how an email promotion to existing buyers affects the impulse buyer segment.
Email campaigns appeal to return and repeat buyers and less so to first-time impulse buyers

Email campaigns appeal to return and repeat buyers (orange line) and less so to first-time impulse buyers (blue line).


How did these visitors get to your site? Where did they land? Did they use site search or navigation to get to a product page? What items did these quick buyers purchase?
Search is clearly not important to most impulse buyers for this site.

Sessions with Searches: Search is clearly not important to most impulse buyers for this site.


Answering these questions will help to develop a map of impulse behavior on your site.
With this blueprint, you’ll be able to pinpoint the areas of your site that attract impulse buyers and begin to test conversion optimization efforts that focus on them.
[sitepromo]

Reducing Risk

When customers are poised to buy, they do a risk assessment. Impulse buyers love low-risk transactions. This is the job of what we call risk reversal tactics.
A risk reversal tactic is anything that takes the risk out of a transaction. Risk reversal comes in many forms.

        

  • Money-back guarantees
  •     

  • Warranties
  •     

  • Trust symbols, such as the BBB logo
  •     

  • Ratings and reviews
  •     

  • Free shipping offers
  •     

  • Low-price guaratees

Often sites signal that they can’t be trusted without even realizing it. They hide their return policies, or make them so complex that they become meaningless. They don’t display free shipping offers in a prominent place.
Impulse buyers have a quiet voice in their head asking “Is this a good idea?”.  What can you do to make sure the answer to that question is always “Yes”?

Case Study: JetPens

The vaguest, most theoretical thing you should be doing is making people feel good about giving you their personal information.  Trust symbols must be obvious but subtle enough to avoid that “Trust me!  Trust me!  Trust me!” vibe that we get from used car salesmen, so incorporate them as naturally as possible.
Take Jetpens.com, an online store selling Japanese pens and stationery.

JetPens naturally decreases risk reversal with the trust symbols on their checkout screen.

JetPens naturally decreases risk reversal with the trust symbols on their checkout screen.


This store is somewhat specialized, so it doesn’t have the same degree of trusted name recognition as an office supplies store like Staples or Office Depot.  One way it resolves the issue is having the Google Trusted Store symbol in the lower right corner.  It sticks to every page, not just the checkout screen.
This is called “borrowing trust.” Sites can borrow trust from current clients, credit card companies, and certification organizations like Google and Buyer Safe.

Increasing Order Size

While you may see free shipping as a pricing issue, it really acts to reduce risk. It reduces anxiety about spending money on a website. It is can also increase the average order of impulse buyers.
JetPens offers free shipping for orders over $25, and they make it really easy for you to hit that mark.

You know exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.

You know exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.


There’s no need for their impulse buyers to do any math.
In lieu of free shipping, it pays for your site to be up-front about what shipping will cost. This takes the surprise out of the transaction, reducing cart abandonment.
JetPens uses a Calculate Shipping button for just this purpose.
You don't even have to leave the checkout page to fill your cart to the $25 mark.

You don’t even have to leave the checkout page to fill your cart to hit the $25 mark.


Getting to the $25 mark that signals free shipping is pretty good motivation for most people to spend more money, but once someone is in the checkout screen, do you really want them to leave it?  By placing a few items from account holders’ wish list at the bottom of the page, JetPens makes it easy for impulse buyers to double-down. Customers see how much more they need to spend and a great suggestion for how to get there.
If the visitor hasn’t added anything to their wish list, why not add a few inexpensive suggestions of your own?

Case Study: ModCloth

With online retail, shipping information needs to be easy to find.  Free shipping isn’t the only reason people convert: they’ll also be more likely to buy if they think it will be easy to return what they bought.  Someone doing lots of research on a product may be willing to hunt around for money-back guarantees, but impulse buyers need trust symbols to be much more in-their-face.
ModCloth, an online women’s clothing store, uses the top of its website to embed lots of different trust symbols.

The top of ModCloth's website is covers lots of trust-building bases.

The top of ModCloth’s website covers lots of trust-building bases.


Customer care and shipping information is at the top of every page, and when you visit the page on returns and exchanges, it’s also pretty easy to understand.
ModCloth's return policy

ModCloth’s return policy


Someone in a hurry to spend money may not make it all the way to this page, but she’ll know it’s there, and she’ll know that exchanges are free without even clicking.  Why wouldn’t she spend her money if it’s that easy to get rid of something that didn’t work out?

Introducing Scarcity

Scarcity is a term that includes limitied supplies, limited-time engagements, exclusivity and qualifications to buy. It imparts a sense of urgency to a shopping session, and impulse buyers are just looking for excuses to act. Give your impulse buyers excuses to act by making it clear that she will be missing out if she doesn’t buy right now.  Remember, impulse buyers see the shopping process as expensive and don’t want to waste their time.

Dwindling stock makes this item much more attractive.

Dwindling stock makes this item much more attractive.


Only one Window Shopping Chic Dress left?!  What am I going to wear when I go window shopping this weekend if that dress doesn’t end up in my closet!
Many impulse buyers like feeling like they’re part of an exclusive group. It feeds their egos and justifies the elitist tone they use when they brag about how the rest of us weren’t able to wear the right window shopping dress.

Increasing the Perceived Value of an Impulse Purchase

Free gifts and bonuses add value to a perceived purchase. The gift doesn’t have to be an extraordinary offer. It provides another excuse to act, often increasing urgency.
SheIn hits that impulse buying nail on the head not once, but twice.  First, a popover tells you that there’s an opportunity for a free gift.

Free gift offer from SheIn

Free gift offer from SheIn


But here’s the fun part.  You have to start a wheel for a free gift.  So it’s a game!
Shoppers play a game to get a free gift.

Shoppers play a game to get a free gift.


This strategy works for pretty much any kind of business, not just retail.  SheIn asks you to join a mailing list order to have the chance at spinning the wheel to get a free gift, so it’s a lead-generating strategy.

The Gift of Game

Gamification is much beloved by millennials, a group renowned for their impulsive buying behavior.  Quizzes and games make even the most mundane tasks so much more interesting.  Let’s say I’m looking for new running shoes, so I search “What kind of shoes should I buy?”
One result is from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.  The name alone seems pretty trustworthy. What do they have to say about what shoes I should buy?

Running shoe buying guide

Running shoe buying guide


Yikes. This isn’t even half of the article! Luckily, I have another option to help me find the answer to my question.
Runner's World shoe quiz

Runner’s World shoe quiz


Runner’s World magazine makes things so much easier!  First I take a short quiz, then it spits out a shoe suggestion for me.
Running shoe suggestion

Running shoe suggestion


Runner’s World doesn’t want to sell me a shoe, but if I were on a retail site selling running shoes, how awesome would it be to be able to click “Add to Cart” from this page?

Go Mobile or Go Home

This weekend I had a movie night with some friends at my house because we urgently needed to watch the first Magic Mike movie.  We didn’t want to miss any major plot points when we watched the soon-to-be-released sequel.
I rented the movie on my phone using the Google Play Movies & TV app.  I tapped the purchase button, and openly lamented to my friends how easy it was to throw my money away.  I mean disgustingly easy.  Three taps and four bucks of my hard-earned money was gone, replaced by the privilege of having two days of access to a movie I hope my mom never finds out I watched.

Magic Mike to rent

First tap


Renting options

2nd tap…and 3rd tap my money is gone


Voila, I made a purchase I kind-of-but-not-really regret.  Your website could have that purchase!
[pullquote]On mobile, fewer people are doing research.  They’re either buying, or they’re leaving.[/pullquote]  I wanted that Magic Mike movie, and I wanted it right then.  More obstacles would have meant using a different app or just watching a different movie I already own.
Buying something from you should be as easy as renting a movie on my phone.
Park the things you know about your desktop users. Think about the needs of your mobile visitors as if they were a different animal. They’re not unicorns or dragons or anything, but you wouldn’t put a leash on a cat. They just won’t stand for it.
As an example, Victoria’s Secret realized that promo codes are to mobile users what pull cords are to blow dryers. They’re not the right tool for the job.
Victorias secret doesn't ask mobile visitors to enter a promo code.

Victoria’s Secret doesn’t ask mobile visitors to enter a promo code.

Impulse Abandoners

Impulse buyers become impulse abandoners when your site doesn’t serve their need to take action. The moment they perceive that a transaction is low value, that the effort is too high, that a purchase is risky or that there is no urgency to take action, they become less impulsive.
It is not manipulative to feed their need for speed. Giving impulse buyers the rationale to act is exactly what they want from you. Why deny them?
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Feature image licensed under Creative Commons and adapted for this post.

Companies will typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, but only $1 to convert them. Traffic is only half the solution to a successful online business.
If you’re putting 90% of your effort into driving traffic to your site, and minimal effort into optimizing your site for conversions then you may as well throw off the lab coat right now.
Like any great scientific experiment, you need to include the right elements to create a winning formula. And when it comes to a winning conversion formula, nothing screams “Sale!” more than a good call-to-action (CTA).
On paper the equation looks easy. Create a clear CTA for a product that delivers, and you’ll achieve sales. [pullquote]So why is it that 47% of websites don’t have a CTA that can be found within 3 seconds or less?[/pullquote] You shouldn’t expect a customer to take action if you haven’t made it abundantly, painfully, overwhelmingly clear what you want them to do. This is one reason many sites are losing the precious visitors they’ve struggle to bring to the site.
Take a look at these smart calls-to-action with tips on how to use them effectively – from the homepage – right through to the sale.

#1. How to get people to sign up for an account: Basecamp

Basecamp's CTA

Basecamp’s CTA


Basecamp is a product that has enjoyed amazing online success year after year. Look at the Basecamp homepage and notice where your eyes are drawn first. Yup, it’s the call-to-action. It stands out like a sore thumb.
The minimalist design of the page really makes the sign up button pop. It’s a huge block of color, surrounded by white space. The key here is that the dark color of blue isn’t used anywhere else on the page, so it is the most visually “important” thing on the page.
Your pages should make it visually clear what path the visitor should take in order to move to the next step in their journey to conversion.

#2. How to get people interested in your product: MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike

CTA to design your bike on MyOwnBike


Smart CTAs even transcend language barriers. You don’t have to speak Germany to understand what it wants you to do.
As soon as you jump on the MyOwnBike homepage, you are invited to start designing your own bike via some persuasive writing techniques.
Again, a minimalist design is centered around the product image with a prominent call-to-action begging the visitor to click. And once clicked, the visitor gets to design their own bike and watch it transform in front of their very eyes – making it fun and engaging.
It’s a no-nonsense approach that relies solely on design to show the visitor what they should do next.

#3. How to push people to the product page: Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos

Shopping option CTAs on Asos


Sometimes, the CTA need only put the visitor on the right path. The CTA on the homepage of Asos does an excellent job of getting the visitor into the right part of the site. Visitors are split into two, males and females. To tackle this problem, Asos features two huge CTAs that lets the visitor pick which gender they would like to shop for.
This is a smart and simple way to move shoppers through to the category pages, where they’ll hopefully refine their search further and find exactly what they’re looking for.
The usual principles of a strong call-to-action apply, of course. The page uses liberal amounts of white space. Branding and navigation elements are black. This ensures the ‘View Women/View Men’ buttons clearly stand out in a vibrant blue color.
[sitepromo]

#4. How to push people to the checkout: Amazon

Your CTAs shouldn’t compete. One CTA should is ideal, but you often need to add more than one CTA. This is where it becomes a little trickier to refine your CTAs. Competing CTAs cause confusion and friction. A secondary offer on the page may cannibalize conversions from the primary, more desirable offer.
The Amazon product page uses color and position to achieve this on its product pages.

Two examples of Amazon's primary and secondary CTAs

Two examples of Amazon’s primary and secondary CTAs


When a shopper is debating whether to buy they have two options:

  1. Add to bag/basket – the primary CTA
  2. Add to wishlist – the secondary

The clear option is for the shopper to add the product to their basket so they can checkout. But if the visitor is hesitating, the ‘add to wish list’ button gives the visitor a back up option. Rather than losing that visitor to a competitor, Amazon chooses to provide a lower-commitment option.
The color and button size of the primary CTA sends powerful signals about what a visitor should do. And if you look at the contrast between the primary and secondary calls-to-action, you can see how much more attractive the primary option is.
The key here is to use a clear visual hierarchy with your primary and secondary CTAs, to push them towards the sale.

#5. How to make the sale: BarkBox

Once you click ‘get started’ on the BarkBox homepage, the journey from the product to the checkout page is simple, clear and most importantly, engaging.
First, using fun illustrations you select the size of your dog.

Barkbox's visual tactic leading you to the sale

Barkbox’s visual tactic leading you to the sale


The call to action here is “Select Dog Size.” It is not presented on a button or link.
The next step asks visitors to select a monthly plan. Notice how the most expensive plan is highlighted as the best value.
Barkbox's monthly plans

Barkbox’s monthly plans


You’re then given the option to treat your dog to a toy. Notice how the ‘Yes Please’ option is highlighted automatically.
Barkbox's upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.

Barkbox’s upgrade option offers both a positive and negative call to action.


In general humans are reluctant to say “No,” so the negative call to action, “No, thank you.” may actually reinforce the primary call to action, “Yes, please!”
The site then asks for an email address.
The call to action is "Create Your Account"

The call to action is “Create Your Account”


By clicking on, “Next,” you’ll be taken to the shipping and payment page. This page is crucial to closing the sale, and as you can see from BarkBox, they really hit the nail on the head. They don’t ask for more details than necessary, and they don’t include any hidden charges – a reason why 70% of shoppers on most sites abandon their carts.
The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale

The form asks for minimal information to complete the sale


The key takeaway here is that calls to action rarely stand alone. The process of purchasing is a series of calls to action, each of which may or may not be a button or link.
Top tip for your checkout page: If you need to use a multi-step process then use a visual progress indicator like a progress bar so customers can manage their expectations regarding how long it will take.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see from these powerful examples, the CTA is clear, each standing out clearly on the page, and each having an intended purpose. By using contrasting colors, on a clean and simple web page, you’ll make your CTAs stand out and guide your visitors to the sale.
Looking for more awesome ways to supercharge your website? Download this eBook for 10 ways to convert shoppers into buyers.

About the Author

Bryan Robinson is a Digital Business Analyst in charge of Marketing for the Commerce division at Spark Pay. He specializes in Lead Generation, PPC and SEM, while also overseeing content production for Spark Pay online store. He has also started and flipped his own eCommerce websites for over 10 years.

Online retailer iNature Skincare® sponsored a video that turned into a phenomenon.

Released on October 29, 2014, the Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question video had garnered over 4 million views within two weeks.

iNature Skincare had sponsored a viral hit.

Unfortunately, sales did not rise as much as one would think. Why not? It is not uncommon for viral videos to fail as buy-ral videos.

We took a look at their site and felt that they hadn’t mapped the visitors journey appropriately.

The Visitor’s Journey

In this case the visitor’s journey starts with being moved by the video. It should then move to becoming aware of the brand, to understanding why the brand sponsored this video, to considering their products, and then to purchase.

I feel good. I want to feel good some more.

After viewing the video, we feel pretty good. Or sad. Or nostalgic. These feelings aren’t typical when considering skin care products.

As viewers, our first response is to get more of this feeling. The most common way to extend the feeling is to share with others. This is clearly happening.

However, iNature Skincare should be enabling this next step. I would have liked to know why iNature sponsored this video.

How does my feeling relate to the sponsor?

iNature Skincare’s viral video is benefiting other brands, brands not nearly as closely aligned with it.

For me, PS Print is getting the love from this video because they are advertising here. This is most likely a retargeted ad. I think iNature Skincare should be here.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

Other advertisers are getting the benefit of this viral video through advertising.

My recommendation was that iNature Skincare should ask the producer to add an overlay or advertise on the video with a message that says, “Why did iNature Skincare asked 50 people this question? Our story.” This would run before the filmmaker, Jubilee Project had a chance to make their pitch at the end.

This ad would allow visitors to take the next step in the journey. If you were producing such a video, you would want to use the end of the video to bring the viewers to the next step.

The sponsor shares my values.

The ad would need to bring the visitor to a page that answered the question posed.

Every ad should bring the visitor to a page that continues the journey. Home pages are notoriously bad at that.

The page should communicate that there was a reason for the effort, and tie the message to it’s products. We really don’t have to work too hard to do this. The message, in words and pictures would be:

We chose to sponsor this video because one of the people interviewed was clearly impacted as a child by acne and eczema. Our products could have helped. We’re still working on the Mermaid Tail.

If I have skin problems, my next question should be, “Really? How?”

The sponsor can solve a problem I have.

iNature Skincare has strong proof of the effectiveness of its products. It has an award-winning package design that lends it credibility. But we must honor the visitor’s journey.

Now is the time to begin building out the company’s value proposition in words and images.

I felt that the compelling proof found in a study was their most powerful statement of the power of the product. This study was small. Eight babies were treated with their product and the results measured on two scales. The before and after pictures are available on the site.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

This page offers compelling evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the products. Click for full image.

The results on this page are unclear, but the pictures are powerful. The product is effective and save enough for babies.

What product did this? Unfortunately, iNature Skincare leaves the visitor hanging on this page. This is an ideal time to introduce the product that had such an impact and offer more information. This could be done in the right sidebar area of the page.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

A mockup of the Consumer Study page with a next step for the visitor.

I would also add products at the bottom of this page.

I can afford the product that solves my problem.

The visitor now needs to do a cost/benefit calculation. It’s time to introduce the product and complete the value building process. For iNature Skincare, the product page does a good job.

I recommended putting a picture of the product used and a link to learn more about the product. The page that featured the product was imperfect, but provided a good deal of information.

The iNature Skincare product page.

The iNature Skincare product page.

This was a good next step because after providing the product information and the price, the presented the next step in the visitor’s journey.

Should I buy now? Can I delay?

The next step in the journey is the choice. So far, the question in the visitor’s mind – “Should I go on?” – has been an easy one to answer. Each click offered more relevant information in the journey.

Visitors that don’t have skin problems have fallen away. Now we are talking to those who need our product.

It’s time to bring them to choice.

This is the job of the call-to-action button. For most ecommerce sites, “Add to Cart” tests well as the call to action. It is presented here in bold read.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer's journey for ecommerce sites.

This is the traditional next step in the buyer’s journey for ecommerce sites.

The button is very wide, and almost doesn’t look like a clickable button. It also lies well down the page. It could be missed. Nonetheless, it offers a natural next step in the visitor’s journey, an important final step.

If, at this point, the visitor does not purchase, then we can assume that

a) they just weren’t ready

b) we didn’t do a good enough job of building value

Price is rarely the issue. When I tell you that your product is too expensive, they mean that you didn’t do a good enough job explaining the value to me.

Could iNature Skincare entice more of these lost visitors to buy?

The Complete Journey

We’ve mapped out a journey from first exposure through to purchase.

  1. A good feeling from branded content
  2. Discovering a brand that shares my values
  3. The realization that the brand solves a problem I have
  4. Understanding the product’s value proposition
  5. The decision to buy
  6. Finalizing the transaction

Each point along the way holds an opportunity for optimization. Here are some opportunities for iNature Skincare to improve these waypoints.

Let Your Visitors Find Their Own Journey

For many visitors, we will not know where their journey started. So, we have to make it easy for them to create their own journey.

iNature Skincare as a non-standard design. The navigation bar is in a sticky band along the bottom, instead of along the top as is expected by most visitors.

This cuts 110 pixels off of the page height, space which could be used to further the value proposition.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

The floating navigation bar at the bottom of the takes up precious space.

Every page on the site needs to offer a next step toward evaluating the products. There are no next steps on the Our Story, About, Dry Skin or Before and After pages.

Every page should answer a question and continue the journey.

If you are stuck on designing your buyer journey, I recommend you buy Buyer Legends from Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg. They outline a process for laying out powerful stories that marketers can actually implement.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

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There’s an old (and probably sexist) saying that I often apply to many online marketing decisions.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you don’t, flaunt it more.

The online store Magic Of Fire has “it.”

        

  • A great product or service.
  •     

  • A bona fide value proposition.
  •     

  • Top people working behind the scenes.
  •     

  • Customers who will tell your story.
  •     

  • A great guarantee, warranty or return policy.

We have a scientific name for guarantees, warranties and generous return policies: Risk Reversal.
Magic of Fire offered an amazing guarantee. It goes something like this:
“Shipping is free. If you trust us enough to buy from us, we promise that, if you have any issues with your product or our service, we’ll pay to ship your item back at our expense and refund your purchase price.”
Now, can you find this promise on their product page?

Click it to enlarge the Magic of Fire Product Page.

Click to enlarge the Magic of Fire Product Page.


 
I put it through our Scanning Electron Microscope and eventually found a “Free Shipping” logo near the bottom of the page. I eventually found a link to their return policy, with the text “100% Satisfaction.”
Cliche is not flaunting. Avoid language like “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “No Risk” and “No obligation.” These no longer mean anything.
If you’ve got it flaunt it.

Risk Reversal Means Never Having to Say Goodbye

When you purchase from a glass and cement store (nothing is brick and mortar anymore), you know that you have an easy out if you don’t like what you bought. You’ll march right in there, slam it down on the customer service desk and demand your money.
Not so much online.
This makes buyers delay hitting that checkout button. They procrastinate, surf other parts of your site and wait for circumstance to save them from making the final decision.
This is especially true if you’ve done a poor job building trust and credibility with your site. The fear is that they will get a lump of coal deposited on their doorstep when they expected a snuggly with a heart-shaped pattern. And they will have no store to storm into.
It sounds “risky.”
Relational buyers will fear getting stuck with the wrong product.
Transactional buyers fear that shipping fees will ruin their great deal, especially if they want to return it (and they will return anything they don’t like).
“Risk reversal” turns “risky” into “safe.”
I recommended that Magic of Fire bring their fantastic return policy right up next to the Add to Cart button on their all-important product pages. I also recommended that they make their free shipping available all over the site, especially in the checkout process.
These two changes alone should deliver a significant boost in conversion rates and revenue per visit.

Does Risk Reversal Really Work?

Magic of Fire’s Mark Oakley called me for a free consultation. After meeting Mark over Skype and hearing his shipping and return policies, I bought a beautiful “star and moon” fire pit for my house.
Zappos has the most famous risk reversal story in the online world. Their 365 day return policy with shipping both ways is one reason their sales reached $1 billion in ten years. That’s amazing growth for a commodity apparel store.

Are you flaunting it?

This is just one mistake that businesses make when selling online.
Businesses who have great products or services with amazing value propositions and great reputations continue to struggle online.
We’re the people who change that.
Jump on a call with us at (888) 961-6604. It’s free, and we’ll show you how much money you could be making with our 120-day Conversion Catalyst™ program.

Update

Mark has apparently taken my advice to heart, placing his free shipping offer all over the site and adding risk reversal near his “Add to Cart” button.

Risk reversal on Magic of Fire Product Page

It’s not flaunting, but at least it’s there.


If you've got free shipping, flaunt it.

If you’ve got free shipping, flaunt it.


Want to find out how this turns out? Subscribe to The Conversion Scientist.
Let me put a finer point on the concept of “flaunting.” This is flaunting:

Make your best risk reversal offers pop on your pages.

Make your best risk reversal offers pop on your pages.


This 20 second design may not match your brand, but you should strive to find something that pops for something as important as your risk reversal.
I’ll give a free signed book to anyone who can tell me in the comments where I heard “If you’ve got it flaunt it. If you don’t flaunt it more.”
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How important are images to your landing page? The formula we use in our Chemistry of a Successful Landing Page includes the element “Image” as a necessary component. At the heart of this is the need for the visitor to imagine owning the product or service. That’s right, even services.
For some, it’s difficult to “show the product.” If you’re offering an expensive software solution or consulting service, how do you communicate what it will be like to own that? Screen shots, flow charts and explainer videos are typical go-to solutions.
Lazy designers drop happy, smiling people on the page. Avoid this business porn.
At the other end of the spectrum is the visual product or service. Photographers, artists, decorators and designers have a portfolio of past work to help visitors imagine buying from them.
Vacation Beach Portraits is such a visual business, and they have some test results that offer some insights. I love it when small businesses take up testing.
Vacation Beach Portraits takes family portraits of tourists to the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores areas of Alabama. The beautiful white beaches and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico offer an ideal setting.
The folks at Vacation Beach Portraits tried testing a landing page against their home page, a blog filled with samples of their work.

Vacation Beach Portraits HomePage-Selections

The Vacation Beach Portraits home page was full of delicious images showing off the work.


familyportraits_vacationbeachportraits_com

Then landing page features a prominent call to action and portfolio video.


Vacation Beach Portraits HomePage thumbThe home page was a long scrolling collection of pictures from recent shoots. Load time can significantly decrease conversion rate on pages like this. However, though lazy-loading of the images allowed me to start viewing images immediately.
The landing page, built using Unbounce, provided an explainer video with samples from their portfolio. It is shorter and features a bulleted list of benefits as part of the copy.

Serial Test

This local business will have few transactions each month. Therefore, Jason Odom of Vacation Beach Portraits did tests in series.
From May 1-15, he sent his search traffic to the landing page.
From May 16-31 he sent his search traffic to the home page.

image

Comparison of visits to inquiries shows a 42.1% increase in conversion rate for the home page. However, this is not statistically valid. Source: ABTestGuide.com


Given the relatively low number of clicks and inquiries, the two pages converted at the same rate statistically. When testing low-traffic sites, we are looking for treatments that beat the control by large margins — 50% or 100%.
In this test, the home page generated 42% more inquiries and 105% more paying clients. Neither of these results was statistically significant, though. The sample sizes were just too low.

Why Didn’t the Landing Page Outperform the Home Page?

Anytime we hear that people are sending “store-bought” traffic to their home page, we roll our eyes. We are almost always able to improve conversions by sending visitors to a landing page.
In this case that didn’t happen. What’s the deal?
Two hypotheses emerged from this test.
1. The long page full of gorgeous pictures found on the home page is what visitors want.
2. The clear call to action found on the landing page kept it in the running.
For their next test, we recommended either adding a bunch of these big gorgeous pictures to the landing page, or adding a call to action button at intervals down the home page.
The quality of the images in the landing page video was lower than the full-width photos found on the home page.
When someone decides they want an amazing family photo like those shown, a button with “Schedule Your Photo Session” is exactly what they will be looking for.

Other Considerations

There were some additional hypotheses we felt would improve the performance of these pages.

This font is pretty, but very hard to read.


We felt that the script font used on the home page was hard to read, recommending a serif print font instead.

Beach Clothing Color Ideas is at the bottom.


The navigation on the site was not particularly logical. The very helpful navigation item “what to wear” seems to link to anything but topics on what to wear. Every link on a site should keep its promise.
Making the phone number more apparent my close the time it takes to book a client from the web or landing page. We find that adding the phone number to the headline (yes, the headline) will significantly increase calls without depressing form fills.

Advice for Businesses with Visual Offering

If you have a visual product, you should leverage this with high-quality, high-resolution web images. Don’t be afraid of long pages. Visual visitors know how to scroll and will appreciate the wealth of stimulation.
However, don’t forget the calls to action.
You never know when someone has seen enough to buy. Lace a buttons or links among your images. Keep in mind that the buttons or links are going to have to compete visually with the images, so make them pop.
The button or link will go to a more traditional landing page or product page that handles objections, allows selection of size, color or format, and asks them to buy.
In almost every case, use captions. These are the most read copy on most pages and are a great place to include a call to action. Tell them what they are looking at, even if it is obvious to you.

Results From the Follow-up Test

This is the busy season for Vacation Beach Rentals, and their landing pages are already converting very well for them. We won’t know the results another test for some time. Subscribe to the Conversion Scientist by email to find out the rest of this story.
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