tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/conversion-rate-optimization Latest Conversion Rate Optimization content from Econsultancy 2016-09-27T10:20:00+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68330 2016-09-27T10:20:00+01:00 2016-09-27T10:20:00+01:00 An in-depth analysis of how Expedia converts visitors into customers: Part one Duraid Shaihob <p>One of the largest travel sites in the world, Expedia and its subsidiaries (which include Hotels.com, Trivago, HomeAway and Travelocity) help millions of travelers find flights and hotels every month.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/">Conversion rate optimization</a> is a major concern for a business as large as Expedia’s.</p> <p>When you’re dealing with tens of millions of transactions every year, even a 0.2% bump in conversion rates can translate into millions in extra revenue.</p> <p>For obvious reasons, there’s a lot you can learn about CRO best practices and innovations by understanding how Expedia turns visitors into customers. </p> <p>Paul Rouke, Founder &amp; CEO at PRWD previously wrote about <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64681-is-booking-com-the-most-persuasive-website-in-the-world/">Booking.com being the most persuasive website in the world</a>, and after using Expedia for the first time, I think it also deserves to be ranked among the best in the business.</p> <p>In the first of two posts, I’ll do an in-depth teardown of Expedia.com and show you how it converts traffic coming in from two different channels - organic search and direct type-ins.</p> <p>Part two, due to be published next week, will focus on traffic from <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-search-marketing-ppc-best-practice-guide/">PPC</a> and social (organic and paid).</p> <h3>Expedia: Then vs. Now</h3> <p>Expedia was founded in October 1996, which makes it one of the oldest travel sites online.</p> <p>Here’s how the site looked like at launch:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9491/expedia_1996.png" alt="" width="800" height="573"></p> <p>The site did not even have a search box when it was launched, let alone a flight booking facility. </p> <p>This is a far cry from the slick, conversion-optimized website that greets you today:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9492/expedia_1.png" alt="" width="800" height="446"></p> <p>If you’ve hung out on any CRO focused websites, a few things about the Expedia.com site will jump out immediately:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>Highly noticeable CTAs:</strong> Both the “Search” button and the top “Hello bar” are in a bright shade of yellow.</p> <p>This grabs attention as soon as you land on the site, especially when contrasted against the blue/gray colors.</p> <p><strong>2.</strong> <strong>Non-intrusive navigation:</strong> The navigation menu doesn’t necessarily grab attention. Instead, the entire focus of the site is on the flight/hotel booking area.</p> <p><strong>3. Distinctive notifications:</strong> The notification icon in the top navigation menu has a distinctive red color and a clear “alarm” icon.</p> <p>You can’t really land on the homepage without noticing it.</p> <p><strong>4. Above the fold:</strong> All the important information - booking a flight, checking out different deals , etc. - is above the fold.</p> <p>In fact, you don’t even have to scroll down the page to book a ticket or a hotel room.</p> <p>There are plenty of other tactics Expedia uses to grab and focus user attention, as you’ll see later.</p> <h3>How Expedia Converts Visitors in Different Scenarios</h3> <p>As a large travel site, Expedia gets its users from search, social, referrals, direct type-ins and paid channels. </p> <p>How Expedia tailors its user experience for visitors coming in from each of these channels can teach you a lot about CRO.</p> <p>For example, on Expedia’s Twitter handle, the company promotes <a href="https://viewfinder.expedia.com/">its blog</a> instead of the main website.</p> <p>It also promotes its other social channels such as Snapchat through pinned tweets and custom logos.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9493/expedia_twitter.png" alt="" width="800" height="472"></p> <p>This is very different from the company’s Facebook page where it promotes its main site, Expedia.com:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9494/expedia_twitter_2.png" alt="" width="800" height="527"></p> <p>Below, I’ll breakdown the user experience for different channels and show you how Expedia maximizes conversion rates for organic search, social, and direct traffic.</p> <h3>Scenario #1: Direct Traffic to Expedia.com</h3> <h4>The Situation</h4> <p>Imagine that you’re a 35-year-old man from Texas. For an upcoming anniversary, you want to treat your wife to a vacation in New York.</p> <p>Since you’ve seen dozens of Expedia ads on TV, you decide to give Expedia a try to book flights. </p> <p>Thanks to the constant advertising, you have strong recall for the Expedia website. So instead of search, you type in Expedia.com directly into your browser.</p> <p>Here’s how Expedia turns such a user into a customer:</p> <h3>The landing page</h3> <p>When you land on Expedia.com, this is the page that greets you:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9495/expedia_landing_page.png" alt="" width="700" height="384"></p> <p>Four things to note here:</p> <p><strong>1.</strong> <strong>The default open tab is flight + hotel “Bundle Deals”. </strong></p> <p>This is more profitable for OTAs (Online Travel Agencies - like Expedia or Booking.com) since they get to sell not one but two products - a hotel and a flight.</p> <p>It’s also better value for customers since they can often get bundled deals. </p> <p><strong>2. “Hello Bar” promotes sign-ups</strong></p> <p>You’ll notice that there is no “sign-up” button anywhere on the homepage.</p> <p>To find this link, you have to click on “Account”, then “Sign-in” to get to the login page.</p> <p>The only other sign-in prompt is at the top of the page on the yellow Hello Bar.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9497/expedia_3.png" alt="" width="800" height="256"> </p> <p>This is something Expedia shares with most of its subsidiaries.</p> <p>For example, here’s Travelocity’s navigation bar:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9498/expedia_5.png" alt="" width="800" height="241"></p> <p>And here’s Orbitz’s navigation:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9499/orbitz_nav.png" alt="" width="717" height="261"></p> <p>Clearly, this is a strategy that’s working for Expedia.</p> <p><strong>3. The notification icon in the navigation menu</strong></p> <p>This icon tells visitors about the “My Scratchpad” feature.</p> <p>This has been a big part of the conversion rate optimization push at Expedia. I’ll show you how it works later.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9500/expedia_notification.png" alt="" width="645" height="207"></p> <p><strong>4. The app download incentive</strong></p> <p>Expedia offers customers points for using its service, called “Expedia+ points”.</p> <p>You can redeem these points for tickets and hotel rooms on the platform (you can also donate these points for cash to St. Jude Children’s Hospital for charity).</p> <p>To incentivize downloads of the Expedia mobile app, the company features a banner for the app on its homepage. Plus, it gives you 3x more points for using the app.</p> <p>Clicking on this text banner takes you to <a href="https://www.expedia.com/app?mcicid=USTriple2">a landing page that promotes the mobile app features</a>, reviews, etc.</p> <p>Expedia also gives users a $25 off coupon for the first hotel booking through the app.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9501/expedia_coupon.png" alt="" width="800" height="304"></p> <p>These incentives can compel new users to try out a new app.</p> <p>In fact, research shows that besides recommendations from family and friends and personalized offers, such one-time offers are one of the biggest reasons for trying out new apps.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9502/bar_graph.png" alt="" width="859" height="509"></p> <p><a href="http://skift.com/2014/12/19/what-travels-top-ceos-have-to-say-about-consumers-mobile-habits/">As per Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshah</a>i, roughly 40% of Expedia’s users are booking across multiple devices.</p> <p>Incentivizing mobile app downloads with coupons and reward points is a big part of the company’s strategy to capture users on smaller screens.</p> <h3><strong>Using Expedia's search tool</strong></h3> <p>Let’s say that instead of flights + hotels, you only want to book a flight ticket from Expedia.</p> <p>So you click on the ‘Flights’ tab and enter your preferences:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9503/expedia_search.png" alt="" width="700" height="380"></p> <p>Note that you can also select ‘Add a Hotel’ and ‘Add a Car’ to expand your search beyond flights.</p> <p>As Expedia starts the search process, this is what you see:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9504/expedia_6.png" alt="" width="800" height="439"></p> <p>Take note of three things here:</p> <p><strong>1. A progress bar shows the status of the search</strong></p> <p>This is a neat UI/UX touch that not only cues in visitors to the status of the search, but also discourages people from abandoning a lengthy search.</p> <p><strong>2. The “Price Alerts” modal on MyScratchpad</strong></p> <p>As soon as you start the search, a Javascript modal box pops up telling you that the “search has been saved in your Scratchpad”, and that by clicking the bright yellow button, you can “Get Price Alerts”.</p> <p>What is the Scratchpad? Think of Scratchpad as a digital notepad for planning your travels (Expedia even calls it that in its marketing docs).</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9505/scratchpad.png" alt="" width="800" height="446"></p> <p>This “digital notepad” keeps track of all your searches and gives you the option to get fare alerts for a particular search. </p> <p>More importantly, this scratchpad retains its information even as you move across devices.</p> <p>This means you can start your search on your laptop, then switch to the smartphone and still find all your old searches.</p> <p>As Expedia’s CEO explains:</p> <blockquote> <p>So ScratchPad is really a framework that we’ve built. We are going to take it across devices as far as push notifications.</p> <p>You can imagine appending searches. If you’ve done a bunch of flight searches, you might be able to append them, send them to your wife, share them socially.</p> </blockquote> <p>For obvious reasons, this is good for conversions. </p> <p><strong>3. “Why shop with us” benefits list</strong></p> <p>OTAs have a big problem on their hands: they have no real way to differentiate themselves. </p> <p>It doesn’t matter whether you go to Travelocity or Booking.com or Expedia - you’re still going to buy the same end-product - a flight ticket or a hotel room.</p> <p>The only way travel sites can differentiate themselves is through the quality of their services, better prices, and low fees.</p> <p>This is exactly what this section hopes to accomplish - by telling users exactly why they should choose Expedia over competitors.</p> <h3>Booking a Flight</h3> <p>After selecting a flight by clicking “Continue”, you will be taken to another similar page to select the return flight.</p> <p>Once you’ve selected the flight, Expedia prompts you to book a hotel as well to get steep discounts:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9507/expedia_booking_a_flight.png" alt="" width="800" height="260"></p> <p>Combined with the default open tab on “Flights + Hotels”, this is another example of Expedia’s core strategy to upsell hotels along with flights.</p> <p>After you click through, you’ll be taken to the checkout page.</p> <p>Lots of interesting things happening here:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9508/expedia_booking.png" alt="" width="800" height="439"></p> <p><strong>1. “Best value flights” prompt</strong></p> <p>This prompt (note the green color and the checkmark) congratulates you on selecting the right flight.</p> <p>Then it asks you to “book now” so you get the best possible price.</p> <p><strong>2. Correct flight departure</strong></p> <p>In my case, I’m landing at LGA but departing from EWR.</p> <p>Expedia helpfully warns me about it - in highly noticeable red text, no less.</p> <p><strong>3. Hotel prompt</strong></p> <p>Once again, Expedia upsells a hotel package.</p> <p>There’s a simple reason for the aggressive upselling - <a href="http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-01-12/news/69704913_1_hotel-segment-hotel-chains-market-share">hotels offer OTAs 10-15% margins</a>, vs. just 5% for flight bookings.</p> <p><strong>4. “34 people book a flight…”</strong></p> <p>This prompt acts as social proof - one of the foundational principles of persuasion - by showing that there are plenty of others (34, to be exact) who’ve booked the exact same flight.</p> <p><strong>5. Upsell for Expedia credit card</strong></p> <p>Yet another upsell, this time for an Expedia Voyage credit card that will not only help you score great travel deals, but also get you 25,000 Expedia+ points.</p> <p>Since the user is already somewhat committed to the purchase, this is a good place to upsell this credit card.</p> <p><strong>6. Best Price Guarantee</strong></p> <p>Expedia “guarantees” the best possible price (<a href="https://www.expedia.com/p/info-other/guarantees#1">here’s the page explaining how</a>).</p> <p>In fact, if you find a lower price than Expedia’s, the company will pay you the difference and give you a $50 coupon.</p> <p>Again, this helps assure customers that they’re getting the best possible deal.</p> <p><strong>7. “Best Value”</strong></p> <p>More pats on the customer’s back for picking the flight that offers the best value.</p> <p>Expedia wants to make you feel that you were smart enough to pick the right flight (and not that Expedia picked the flight for you).</p> <p>Giving the customer agency this way can help improve conversion rates.</p> <p>After reviewing the price, you can continue the purchase by clicking the appropriately named button - “Continue Booking”.</p> <p>On this page, you’ll be asked for the passenger details.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9509/expedia_passenger_details.png" alt="" width="800" height="633"></p> <p>Besides the points noted above, a few more things stand out here:</p> <p><strong>1. Sign-in prompt</strong></p> <p>Expedia wants to convert more of its browsers into users. To do this, it offers customers bonus “Expedia points” for signing-in. </p> <p><strong>2. “Prices not guaranteed” </strong></p> <p>This can serve both as a warning and an incentive.</p> <p>It tells users that the prices shown on the page are not “guaranteed” until they actually book it.</p> <p>So if they want to lock in the savings, they better finish the booking process fast.</p> <p><strong>3. No navigation bar </strong></p> <p>Like the previous checkout page, the only navigation link here is the “Sign-in” button.</p> <p>All other navigational elements have been removed to focus on converting users.</p> <p><strong>4. “Breadcrumbs” navigation</strong></p> <p>This navigation menu helps guide users through the checkout process. Note the use of icons next to the text.</p> <p><strong>5. “Secure transmission”</strong></p> <p>A gray lock icon and a security declaration helps reassure customers that their data isn’t going to get lost - a big concern after the number of major companies losing customer data after breaches (most famously, the Target data breach).</p> <p><strong>6. Hotel upsell</strong></p> <p>Notice that in this upsell, Expedia gives you an exact figure for how much you can save on hotels by booking it with your flight tickets.</p> <p>Giving exact figures works better since they sound more “real” than rounded figures like “50% off”.</p> <p>In the case of pricing, for example, the lack of “roundedness” <a href="http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/678484?searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dthis%2Bnumber%2Bjust%2Bfeels%2Bright%26amp%3Bacc%3Doff%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone&amp;resultItemClick=true&amp;Search=yes&amp;searchText=this&amp;searchText=number&amp;searchText=just&amp;searchText=feels&amp;searchText=right&amp;uid=3739696&amp;uid=2134&amp;uid=2&amp;uid=70&amp;uid=4&amp;uid=3739256&amp;sid=21106111788201">improves conversion rates for rational purchases such as flight tickets</a>.</p> <h3>Paying for the flight</h3> <p>After you enter the passenger details, you’ll be taken to the payment page. This is the moment of truth - every step in the customer’s journey has been leading up to this.</p> <p>Expedia uses this page to maximize its earnings by heavily promoting an upsell: a $20 travel insurance policy.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9511/expedia_paying_for_the_flight.png" alt="" width="800" height="459"></p> <p>Keep in mind that Expedia doesn’t charge a transaction fee to users.</p> <p>Whatever money it makes, it makes through upsells and by charging hotels and airlines a commission.</p> <p>By pushing an insurance policy, Expedia can dramatically increase the amount of money it makes from every customer.</p> <p>How it promotes this offer is an exercise in conversion optimized design. From clever use of color to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/online-copywriting/">smart copywriting</a>, Expedia pulls out all the guns to get people to buy more.</p> <p>Let’s take a look at everything Expedia is doing here:</p> <p><strong>1. Fear of Missing Out</strong></p> <p>FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a well documented psychological phenomenon where people are compelled to do something just because it might not be available later.</p> <p>Expedia takes advantage of that by boldly asking customers to not “Miss Out” on this deal. A clock icon and red text adds to the effect.</p> <p><strong>2. Loss aversion</strong></p> <p>On the surface, this list of reasons looks innocuous enough. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll notice how they all focus on negativity - loss, sickness, medical emergencies.</p> <p>This plays into <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion">the psychological phenomenon of loss aversion</a>, where people are motivated more by losing something than making new gains.</p> <p><strong>3. Purchase affirmation + negative opt-out</strong></p> <p>Here, Expedia makes “Yes” the default choice. It also phrases the purchase as protection (“I want to protect my trip”) and not as insurance.</p> <p>The statement - “Expedia protects over 1 million flight travelers a year” - works as social proof.</p> <p>If 1m people are buying insurance every year, surely they all can’t be wrong?</p> <p>Also note the checkmark next to this statement. The choice is also highlighted by clever use of color - green is frequently <a href="http://adpearance.com/blog/color-theory-and-landing-page-buttons">associated with wealth, renewal and stability</a> in color psychology. </p> <p>To opt out of buying the insurance, you have to click a radio button with a negative choice.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9512/expedia_insurance.png" alt="" width="800" height="150"></p> <p>By vocalizing the negative choice, Expedia makes it sound much less appealing.</p> <p>This is a tactic frequently used by marketers to push more users towards the positive opt-in. For example, here’s a pop-up on Copyhackers:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9513/copyhackers_messages.png" alt="" width="800" height="510">v</p> <p>Interestingly, the font for the opt-out button is slightly smaller than the font for the opt-in.</p> <h3>Testimonial </h3> <p>Effective use of testimonials is one of the best weapons in any CRO’s arsenal to push conversions.</p> <p>Here, Expedia not only uses a testimonial from a real customer, but also gives an exact value of the monetary benefits from the insurance.</p> <p>Combined, these design choices help push Expedia’s conversion rates for this upsell much higher.</p> <p>The actual payment form is surprisingly sparse:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9514/payment_details.png" alt="" width="750" height="478"> </p> <p>The only visual element are logos of different payment providers. Expedia includes a total of six logos - far beyond the usual two or three logos.</p> <p>This gives customers the impression that they have multiple payment options to choose from, which can give <a href="http://www.retailtechnologyreview.com/articles/2009/05/06/476-survey-finds-that-merchants-are-losing">a small boost to conversion rates</a>.</p> <p>Scroll down further and you’ll be asked to enter your email address to receive booking confirmation:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9515/booking_confirmation.png" alt="" width="750" height="465"></p> <p>The only thing of interest here is that Expedia checks the “Join Expedia+” checkbox by default.</p> <p>Just so you aren’t sore about it (and to make the membership more appealing), it offers you 56 Expedia+ points to push you to sign-up for an account.</p> <p>Once you’ve entered the payment information and clicked “Continue Booking”, you’ll have the flight ticket in your account.</p> <h3>Scenario 2: Organic Traffic Teardown</h3> <h4>The Situation</h4> <p>The Texas man who wants to gift his wife a weekend for two in New York city now heads over to Google instead of Expedia.com directly.</p> <p>He types in a query - “flight tickets to New York”.</p> <p>On the first page, he finds a search result from Expedia that looks promising:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9516/kayak_search_results.png" alt="" width="750" height="508"></p> <p>Let’s take a look at how Expedia converts this search visitor into a customer.</p> <h3>The landing page</h3> <p>This is the landing page from a search for “flights to New York” on Google. A few things deserve our attention:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9518/expedia_new_york_fights.png" alt="" width="750" height="321"></p> <p>The landing page is customized for the query.</p> <ul> <li>The lowest possible price ($98) is shown first to convince visitors to stick around.</li> <li>The landing page lists three reasons for choosing Expedia - tons of hotels, guaranteed low prices, and free 24 hour cancellation.</li> </ul> <p>Scroll down a bit further and you’ll see a list of flights to New York from different cities.</p> <p>Things to note here:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9519/expedia_options.png" alt="" width="750" height="333"></p> <p>1. The share button is a small drop down menu.</p> <p>The button blends into the background and doesn’t really attract attention.</p> <p>Obviously, shares are not a big source of traffic for Expedia for users coming in from search, which is why it has muted the button.</p> <p>2. As with the landing pages we saw above, Expedia pushes its Flights + Deals over flight-only deals.</p> <p>The reason is simple enough: OTAs make more money from hotel bookings than just flight bookings.</p> <p>3. The highest possible discount is highlighted in the section headline without any information on the flight’s date, hotel type or airline.</p> <p>The sole purpose is to get users to click through to the next page.</p> <h3>Using flight search</h3> <p>Once you initiate the search, you are greeted by a page similar to the one you saw above:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9520/expedia_flight_search.png" alt="" width="800" height="453"></p> <p>There are two design elements here that I want to highlight.</p> <p>Firstly, if you’ve made any previous searches on Expedia, you can “turn on search notes” in your Scratchpad to see how prices have changed since your last search.</p> <p>Secondly, a small but hard-to-ignore pop-up box in bright yellow informs me that “4043 people are shopping for flights to NYC on Expedia right now”. How is that for social proof?</p> <p>But before I can look at the search results, a pop-up shows on screen:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9521/expedia_pop_up.png" alt="" width="800" height="434"></p> <p>This pop-up warns users that ticket prices are set to rise in the next few days.</p> <p>The way it is phrased makes it sound like it is merely doing a service to users - warning them about an impending price change.</p> <p>However, from a CRO perspective, it is clear that this warning is meant to drive conversions, not just warn users.</p> <p>Two things you should note about it:</p> <p>1. Instead of giving a vague “prices are about to rise!” warning, it gives an exact figure for the expected price rise - 55%. This makes the warning sound much more believable.</p> <p>2. The price rise is time bound. Instead of saying that prices are going to rise “in the next few days”, Expedia tells you the exact number of days (six) before the impending price rise. </p> <p>Together, this compels more users to take action since prices will go up by more than half in less than a week.</p> <p>Also note the pop-up at the bottom - more social proof!</p> <h3>Selecting the flight</h3> <p>After you select a departing and a return flight (I’m picking the very first one), you’ll see a pop-up promoting a hotel + flight offer:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9523/expedia_hotel_and_flight_offer.png" alt="" width="800" height="308"> </p> <p>Again, Expedia pushes the flight + hotel deal since it’s better for Expedia as well as customers.</p> <p>The booking review page is similar to the page we saw earlier.</p> <p>Note the congratulatory message at the top - a subtle push to persuade users to finish the purchase.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9524/expedia_booking_review.png" alt="" width="750" height="372"></p> <h3>Paying for the flight</h3> <p>After entering the passenger details, you’ll be taken to the payment page. This is similar to the page we saw above.</p> <p>There’s the same upsell for travel insurance along with the customer testimonial, conversion focused design and persuasive copywriting:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/9525/expedia_confirmation.png" alt="" width="750" height="392"></p> <p>After entering your credit card information, you can hit ‘Complete Booking’ and wrap up the purchase.</p> <h4>See you next time...</h4> <p>So far, we’ve seen how Expedia creates an optimum customer journey for users coming in through organic search and direct.</p> <p>This leaves two big acquisition channels - social media and paid traffic.</p> <p>As mentioned, the second part of this analysis will be published on Econsultancy's blog next week.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3062 2016-08-15T17:11:39+01:00 2016-08-15T17:11:39+01:00 SEO, PPC and Conversion: International Strategy <p>The opportunities to reach an international market through digital marketing and SEO have never been greater, but with it come the challenges around identifying, approaching and engaging across such diverse markets.</p> <p>Drive your online traffic and sales on a global level by learning how to identify opportunities and implement authentic multilingual and international SEO, PPC and social media campaigns</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/2967 2016-08-10T16:25:59+01:00 2016-08-10T16:25:59+01:00 Conversion Optimisation - How to Deliver Digital Growth <p>Have you turned the marketing dial to its limit with diminishing results? Are you working towards delivering the next big website redesign? Are you working on strategies to gain an advantage over your competition?</p> <p>This one day course shows you how to implement a robust conversion optimisation strategy and process which can deliver major uplifts in sales revenue and profitability, as well as changing the way you develop your brand, innovate your offering, and make website redesigns a thing of the past. The course will show you how to implement a data driven approach of onsite testing and optimisation as well as arming you with the strategic knowledge to accelerate growth for forward-thinking businesses.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68102 2016-07-27T14:02:00+01:00 2016-07-27T14:02:00+01:00 Why there should be more plaudits for digital audits Chris Bishop <p>Those at the top of organisations don’t feel they have the strategic sweep to justify the time and effort required to commission them.</p> <p>Audits are viewed at times as a little “too tactical” or only done once every blue moon by agencies aiming to impress for your business, only to then collect dust on top of Econsultancy buyers guides print outs or even your old New Media Age magazines (<strong>Ed</strong>: We let this lie, but only to show we have a sense of humour).</p> <p>For the in-house Head of Ecommerce, requesting a digital audit might sound dangerously like a turkey voting for Christmas. </p> <h3>Are we selling audits wrongly?</h3> <p>Or is it the slightly cheesy marketing of website or marketing auditors themselves that is putting people off?</p> <p>All that tired ‘digital health check’ stuff might be the kind of foot in the door tactic that make brands feel suspicious of then giving access to their precious AdWords account, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67171-what-is-affiliate-marketing-why-do-you-need-it/">affiliate network</a> or analytics suite.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/7503/healthcheck.jpeg" alt="health check" width="275" height="183"></p> <h3>How important are digital audits anyway?</h3> <p>In reality, though, digital audits are absolutely vital. And third party objective auditing ensures that you’re not marking your own home work or ignoring long term problems.</p> <p>Proper auditing, UX testing and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67473-seven-conversion-rate-optimization-trends-to-take-advantage-of-in-2016/">CRO analysis</a> means you can elongate the lifetime and effectiveness of your website and digital media activity, in a way that can be done on any budget.</p> <p>Your digital real estate is often an expensive investment - you’ve got to maintain it properly to get results.</p> <h3>Regular servicing is vital</h3> <p>Think of that shiny new website you’ve just spent months developing as a new car you’ve just acquired.</p> <p>To start off with, it’s the envy of everyone who sees it. After-sales support is pretty good and you can see years of trouble free motoring ahead of you. Before you know it, though, your warranty is up and you’re on your own.</p> <p>As the car ages, small problems become big problems. It performs less effectively. You’re paying for petrol, but it’s becoming less and less economical to run. There are so many things going wrong with it you don’t know where to start. Eventually the car's value is so diminished you might as well scrap it and buy a new one.</p> <p>It’s the same with websites and digital marketing campaigns. They can’t be left to look after themselves – and even the mechanic themselves might need some fine tuning or training themselves.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7504/service-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="car service" width="380"></p> <h3>What a digital audit can do for you </h3> <p>Audits can show you how to balance your budget more effectively through action and prioritisation. They can identify common issues like plateaus in activity and drop offs in acquisition; all the elements that reduce profitability. </p> <h3>The Lessons of the Audit</h3> <p>Constantly learn, constantly improve, constantly trade! A timely and constructive audit will help you:</p> <ul> <li>Keep up to date with the latest channel trends - Google changes, new publishers in affiliate, new platform or techniques for social. </li> <li>Use competitor analysis to keep your enemies close! It’s crucial to analyse and understand market share/spend and its consequences for your brand. </li> <li>Help you (re)define your goals.</li> <li>Confirm your objectives or KPIs so you can measure success.</li> <li>Understand new opportunities.</li> <li>Benchmark improvements or conversely measure areas of decline.</li> <li>Ensure corporate compliance – its best practice to have someone external “rubber stamp” your activity.</li> <li>Encourage serendipity – the uncovering of that nugget of information that transforms your understanding and makes the commercial difference.</li> </ul> <h3>Should you take the plunge?</h3> <p>Regular and skilled digital auditing is a detailed and never ending task.  It can transform the effectiveness of your digital advertising, website and budget.  </p> <p>Is it sexy? It’s showing your website a lot of love and attention. It’s optimizing and maximizing your marketing profitability and performance. Sounds pretty sexy to me.</p> <p><em>More on auditing:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68031-answering-the-key-question-of-content-auditing-where-do-i-start/">Answering the key question of content auditing - where do I start?</a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68074 2016-07-21T10:57:05+01:00 2016-07-21T10:57:05+01:00 Is content really the solution to lacklustre conversion rates? Steve Borges <p dir="ltr">Those who know me will be well aware of my belief in testing and analysis as the basis for targeted investment in improved retail performance – and the content question should, I believe, get the same treatment.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, I’ve taken a look behind the scenes and dug into the data from some of the UK’s biggest high-street fashion and lifestyle brands – essentially to answer the question:  “Does content really improve conversion?”</p> <p dir="ltr">The answer, as it turns out is “Yes and no”.  But before I expand on that, some context...</p> <h3 dir="ltr">It’s undeniably true that the shift to mobile has hit conversion for most brands.</h3> <p dir="ltr">That is driven by three inter-related trends that are right there in the data.</p> <p dir="ltr">First, there has been a dramatic shift to mobile over the last few years – the data tells us that tablet and mobile use (combined) moved from 40% of all sessions in 2013 to 68% in 2015.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data (aggregated 2013 - 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7096/sessions_by_device-blog-flyer.png" alt="sessions by device" width="470" height="276"> </p> <p dir="ltr">But what’s interesting here is the lack of any real session growth.  Quite simply, people aren’t shopping more because of mobile; they are shopping differently.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then there is <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67174-five-best-practice-tips-to-boost-mobile-conversions/">the issue of mobile conversion</a>. In general, conversion on tablet is lower than desktop for most brands and conversion on mobile falls to between 14% and 64% of that achieved on desktop.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sales (anonymous retailers 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7099/conversion_by_device-blog-flyer.png" alt="conversion by device type" width="470" height="236"></p> <p dir="ltr">Once again, the data reveals the impact of those trends.</p> <p dir="ltr">Conversion rates were hit hard in 2014, before recovering in 2015, largely due to the implementation of mobile and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66081-responsive-web-design-15-of-the-best-sites-from-2014/">responsive sites</a> and subsequent optimisation efforts.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sales (anonymous retailers 2013-15)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7100/conversion_over_time-blog-flyer.png" alt="conversion over time" width="470" height="242"> </p> <p dir="ltr">As this relentless shift to mobile continues though, retailers will face an uphill struggle to improve conversion – no surprise then, that <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/conversion-rate-optimization-report/">conversion rate optimisation</a> (and on mobile in particular) has become a high priority for most brands.</p> <p dir="ltr">So there’s the context; but what does the data tell us about the role of content in that conversion optimisation struggle?</p> <h3>The good news is, there is a positive correlation between content and conversion</h3> <p dir="ltr">Back in 2014, L2 published research that sought to demonstrate a correlation between content quality and conversion.</p> <p dir="ltr">For them, content quality as a measure went beyond <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65656-how-nike-s-merchandising-strategy-can-help-retailers-of-all-types/">merchandising</a> and product presentation to include blogs and microsites, videos and tutorials, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67994-10-ecommerce-ux-treats-on-the-new-oasis-website">user generated content</a> and guided selling tools.</p> <p dir="ltr">I’ll refer to this as “rich content” for ease.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: L2 Inc - Content and Commerce, 2014.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7093/l2_research-blog-flyer.png" alt="L2 research" width="470" height="298"> </p> <p dir="ltr">L2 concluded that improvements in rich content were responsible for 50% of retailers’ conversion improvements and, for every five point increase in content score, conversion increased by 1%. You can read the full report <a href="https://www.l2inc.com/research/content-and-commerce-2014">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Looking at my data, I’ve also been able to demonstrate a correlation between engagement and conversion - <em>Note: We did check that session durations correlated with page-views to rule out site performance /checkout issues.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data, based on UK sites (anonymous retailers 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7101/session_duration_vs_conversion-blog-flyer.png" alt="session duration vs conversion" width="470" height="233"></p> <p dir="ltr">What’s more, we’ve run a series of A/B tests to really understand the impact of rich content on conversion and AOV. In our most significant test to date, we found that:</p> <ul> <li>Users who interacted with rich-content were 20% more likely to purchase than those who didn’t.</li> <li>AOV was 22% higher for those who interacted with rich content before proceeding to purchase.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Clearly, these are very encouraging results, on closer inspection, they must carry two very important caveats:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Rich content was presented to customers during their journey and within the same session, so it was highly <strong>visible</strong>.</li> <li>It related to the items being purchased, so it was highly <strong>relevant</strong>.</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">So the question is how can both of these objectives be achieved on a typical ecommerce website?</p> <p dir="ltr">To understand that we must look at how effective the use of content is currently; crucially, whether it passes the visibility and relevance test – and, in all too many cases, the answer is ‘no’.</p> <p dir="ltr">The truth is traditional content destinations simply do not engage users. For instance, only 25-35% of users see the homepage during their ecommerce journeys, so rich content featured or merchandised here is invisible to the majority of users.</p> <p dir="ltr">In fact, we’ve found that engagement with rich content when it’s featured on the homepage (and category landing pages) is generally very low – conversion rates are actually improved if rich content is relegated or removed from these pages (but the brand people don't like it).</p> <p dir="ltr">But what about blogs, the historical home of rich content on ecommerce sites? Back in 2014 the L2 Research compared blog traffic volumes to that of the sites they support and found that engagement with them is poor.</p> <p dir="ltr">We’ve found that traffic to blogs is significantly lower that to other areas of the site that should be comparable and they suffer from exit rates that are up to three times the site average, even where blogs feature in the main navigation and are merchandised on the homepage.</p> <p dir="ltr">That’s not exactly what we are all trying to achieve and not popular with trading teams.</p> <p dir="ltr">So, if we know that making relevant content visible to users during their journeys to drive engagement and conversion and we can pretty much rule out the homepage, key landing pages and the blog, where should we be looking?</p> <p dir="ltr">Well the answer is in the data; 50% of users now start their ecommerce journeys on a product listings page or product details page - that’s where the opportunities lie.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Source: Biglight benchmark data (aggregated 2015)</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0007/7091/landing_page_breakdown-blog-flyer.png" alt="landing page breakdown" width="470" height="301"></p> <h3>This all has some fairly big implications for site design and content optimisation</h3> <p dir="ltr">The headline here is that content <strong>can</strong> positively affect conversion and AOV - but blindly throwing money at content without really understanding where it is best used is to trust to luck.</p> <p dir="ltr">Chance dictates that some content will be in the right place, but those fortunate retailers will not know why and will still be wasting time and money on content that barely anyone sees.</p> <p dir="ltr">The solution is two fold.</p> <p dir="ltr">First, retailers need to move away from rich content destinations and content merchandising to create content elements that are featured or “threaded” through the pages that make up the user journey - principally the product listings pages, but also the product details pages.</p> <p dir="ltr">Second, they must test, test and test again with real users and A/B testing tools – then let the data tell them what works, and do more of it. That means looking at every type of content to understand its impact in different contexts:</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1.</strong> Brand heritage content that’s true for ever</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2.</strong> Seasonal content that drives core merchandising messages</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3.</strong> Short term “now” content that creates relevance</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4.</strong> Social validation content - user-curation, ratings and review</p> <p dir="ltr">In short then, content really can be at least part of the solution to lacklustre conversion rates – but only content that is delivered with purpose and focus; content that is both visible and relevant and whose performance is understood and optimised through exhaustive testing.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/68058 2016-07-12T14:51:07+01:00 2016-07-12T14:51:07+01:00 Has Amazon Prime Day 2016 made up for 2015’s #PrimeDayFail? Nikki Gilliland <p>Despite some initial fanfare, social media was soon flooded with complaints about laughable discounts and naff products, with consumers gleefully using the hashtag #primedayfail to highlight everything that went wrong.</p> <p>Today, the sales event is back, with Amazon promising even more bargains to tempt consumers.  </p> <p>But has Amazon learnt from its mistakes? Here’s the situation so far…</p> <h3>Who’s eligible?</h3> <p>The clue is in the name. The biggest and best deals are only available to Prime members. </p> <p>With last year’s event resulting in the most Prime sign-ups in a single day (and a subsequent 19m US subscribers since) – the event is clearly just a vehicle to grow Amazon's member base.</p> <p>For regular consumers, this has the power to repel rather than pull people in, especially since the retailer has been intent on hammering home the ‘exclusive’ message on all its main email, website and social media copy.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6950/exclusive.PNG" alt="" width="700" height="218"></p> <p>It has to be said, there are <em>some</em> deals accessible to all, but they are extremely limited and very hard to find.</p> <p>It took a good few minutes for me to figure out that the ‘Featured Prime Day’ savings were eligible to me (a non-member).</p> <p>And let’s be honest, they’re far from exciting. (Unless vitamins and minerals are your thing...)</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6942/prime_day_deals.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="243"></p> <p>Ironically, if you’re not a Prime member, you’re the consumer that Amazon probably cares about the most today.</p> <p>However, its heavy-handed targeting means that you might feel more inclined to avoid the whole thing rather than tempted to sign up. </p> <h3>Social promotion</h3> <p>If you follow Amazon on any of its main social media channels, you’ll have seen its attempts at building excitement around the event. </p> <p>A series of countdown tweets and Facebook posts means that the event has been well signposted and cleverly executed.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Only 5 days to go!<a href="https://t.co/pRdR7iWm6z">https://t.co/pRdR7iWm6z</a> <a href="https://t.co/6O9TMNVmmD">pic.twitter.com/6O9TMNVmmD</a></p> — Amazon.co.uk (@AmazonUK) <a href="https://twitter.com/AmazonUK/status/751113558352691200">July 7, 2016</a> </blockquote> <p>While the Facebook ads are slick and well-designed (with a simple and effective call-to-action for a free trial on the main site), the fact that it's so heavily geared around exclusivity surely means that non-Prime members are likely to ignore it.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6945/facebook_prime_day.png" alt="" width="550" height="588"></p> <p>In terms of emails, I only received one on the morning of the event itself.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6946/Amazon_email.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="522"></p> <p>Instead of promoting the discounts, I did find it slightly off-putting that it only showcased the products – an obvious attempt to get consumers to click through to learn more.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6947/Amazon_email_deals.PNG" alt="" width="600" height="772"></p> <p>Whether or not that click converts to a purchase, again, probably depends on Prime membership status.</p> <h3>The discounts</h3> <p>One of the biggest complaints from consumers last year was that the biggest discounts were not properly promoted on the site.</p> <p>Eventually, it emerged that Amazon used a broad algorithm to select the deals, leading to a lot of random items such as tupperware and dishwasher detergent.</p> <p>This year, it’s not entirely clear how it’s been set up, but according to a company spokesperson, Amazon has ‘increased the number of deals and at the same time, increased the volume of inventory behind those deals.’</p> <p>With a dedicated homepage, showcasing a variety of categories and filter options, there is a clear attempt to give the user greater direction.</p> <p>Navigation is simple, with good signposts to point customers in the direction of 'deals ending soon' and 'recommended deals'.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6949/amazon_homepage.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="654"></p> <p>In terms of savings, there does appear to be a decent amount of products on offer, with the best being discounts being on electronics and home appliances.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6939/prime_day_deals_tech.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="481"></p> <p>However that algorithm must be working its evil magic again... I also spied far too many irrelevant items for my liking.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/6941/Amazon_deals.PNG" alt="" width="780" height="510"></p> <h3>In conclusion...</h3> <p>It’s probably too early to say for sure if this year’s Prime Day has been any more successful than the last.</p> <p>While clearly an attempt to bag even more Prime memberships, what the retailer fails to realise is that the hype might do more to put people off than draw them in. </p> <p>Similarly, there's already an amusing amount of social media backlash, so Amazon clearly hasn't done much to sort out that algorithm issue.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thanks <a href="https://twitter.com/amazon">@amazon</a>! This is just what I needed! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrimeDayFail?src=hash">#PrimeDayFail</a> <a href="https://t.co/mIiNUs4l6u">pic.twitter.com/mIiNUs4l6u</a></p> — Martin Untrojb (@MEUntrojb) <a href="https://twitter.com/MEUntrojb/status/752805002884898820">July 12, 2016</a> </blockquote> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67973 2016-06-21T14:20:55+01:00 2016-06-21T14:20:55+01:00 Facebook's Offline Conversions API is a big deal for merchants Patricio Robles <p>As the name suggests, the <a href="https://developers.facebook.com/docs/marketing-apis/offline-conversions/v2.6">Offline Conversions API</a> gives merchants advertising on Facebook the ability to track how their Facebook campaigns drive offline action.</p> <p>It functions similarly to <a href="https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/docs/guides/importing-conversions">Google's offline conversion tracking</a>:</p> <ul> <li>Merchants configure their ad accounts for offline conversion tracking.</li> <li>Offline conversion events data is sent to Facebook via API.</li> <li>Facebook identifies offline conversion events that are associated with Facebook users who viewed the merchants ads.</li> </ul> <h3>Getting attribution right</h3> <p>Of course, correlation isn't causation.</p> <p>Merchants may be running campaigns through many networks, so the fact that someone viewed a merchant's Facebook ad does not necessarily mean that the ad was responsible, directly or indirectly, for an offline action like a sale. </p> <p>To make <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65459-what-is-marketing-attribution-and-why-do-you-need-it">attribution</a> a bit more exact, advertisers will need to establish a methodology for analyzing offline conversions data, which can then be applied using Facebook's Ads Insights API.</p> <p>That API allows Facebook advertisers to retrieve statistics about their ads.</p> <p>By combining the API's Breakdowns and Breakdown Actions functionality, it's possible for merchants to do deep analysis of customers who viewed their Facebook ads and completed a specific offline action.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmarketing%2Fvideos%2F10154372038226337%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>For example, Argentine retailer Frávega was "able to show that for every dollar of ecommerce revenue we were generating from Facebook ads, we were actually getting an additional $2.20 in our brick-and-mortar stores.</p> <p>"With the Offline Conversions API we were able to optimize our investment and increase spending with confidence," <a href="https://www.facebook.com/business/news/drive-and-measure-store-visits-and-sales">according to</a> Frávega digital marketing manager Mariano Tordo.</p> <h3>The importance of first-party data</h3> <p>As one might expect, Facebook's new Offline Conversions API can't perform miracles.</p> <p>To function, merchants must be in a position to supply Facebook with customer information it can use to match offline events to its users.</p> <p>This includes usual suspects like email address, phone number, first and last name, but Facebook will also accept information like date of birth, gender and ZIP code, which can help pinpoint users more accurately.</p> <p>This highlights the growing importance of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/the-promise-of-first-party-data">first-party data</a> to merchants.</p> <p>Obviously, it is in many cases easier for merchants selling online to collect the personally identifiable information that Facebook needs, but given the challenges brick and mortar merchants face in measuring the influence of online ad campaigns on offline sales, it behooves merchants to develop strategies to collect and store more information about their customers.</p> <p>There are a number of techniques commonly used to do this, such as <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/62489-b-q-s-club-app-is-the-perfect-mobile-loyalty-scheme">loyalty schemes</a>.</p> <h3>Third-party integrations make Facebook's API instantly accessible</h3> <p>In an effort to make the Offline Conversions API more accessible to companies that may lack the technical resources required to integrate with it, Facebook has created partnerships with companies that are already working with merchants of all shapes and sizes.</p> <p>For example, one of those partners is Acxiom-owned data connectivity platform LiveRamp.</p> <p>Thanks to its integration with the Offline Conversions API, LiveRamp clients can take advantage of Facebook's new functionality without building an integration of their own. That was a no-brainer for the company.</p> <p>"By connecting campaign exposure data to offline sales transactions, marketers can understand which campaign strategies are truly generating real business returns,” Travis May, LiveRamp's president and GM, stated in a press release.</p> <p>“This insight is key to optimizing campaign performance and justifying higher digital marketing budgets."</p> <p>Other companies that offer solutions now supporting the Offline Conversions API include IBM, Marketo, Square and Invoca, so many businesses will find that they are in a position to put Facebook's offering to work with minimal effort.</p> <p><em>For more on Facebook Ads, download Econsultancy’s new <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide/">Social Media Best Practice Guide 2016</a>.</em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67870 2016-05-24T11:19:35+01:00 2016-05-24T11:19:35+01:00 Why ASOS is still leading the online retailing pack Paul Rouke <p>The reality is the core user experience of ASOS has changed very little over the years and for good reason – it’s an exceptional example of delivering an intuitive, persuasive, streamlined browsing and buying experience.</p> <p>What continually surprises me is how many major retailers still haven’t built some of the core foundations that ASOS did years ago.</p> <p>In this article I share what I feel, in my experience, are things which not only make ASOS exceptional, but should also provide inspiration for other retailers.</p> <h3>Site-wide, immediate visibility of its USP</h3> <p>Long before most retailers realised the importance of communicating their unique selling points site-wide in a high visibility area, ASOS had featured three banners underneath its primary navigation.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5154/UVP_header.PNG" alt="" width="595" height="94"></p> <ul> <li>Ensure the messages stand out visually and attract attention.</li> <li>Make it clear there are distinct messages.</li> <li>Use colour/design touches to draw particular attention to the primary message you want to communicate at any one time.</li> <li>Make it clear if the message is clickable to find out more.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing</strong><strong>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Use icons to provide visual clues to differentiate the messages.</li> <li>Ensure you communicate your USPs across devices – don’t hide them when you simplify your mobile UI, visitors still need to be persuaded.</li> </ul> <h3>Streamlined navigation experience</h3> <p>For as long as I can remember, ASOS has had an incredibly simple primary navigation bar.</p> <p>The reality is, it offers every visitor a simple and relevant first choice to start exploring the huge product range.</p> <p>ASOS was also one of the early retailers to provide <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65357-mega-menu-design-trends-in-ecommerce-2011-vs-2014/">a mega menu</a>, but not just <em>any</em> mega menu – it has always been tailored to suit a range of buyer types and expose a wide range of the brand areas i.e. Marketplace.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5155/Screenshot__2_.png" alt="" width="594" height="405"></p> <ul> <li>Simplify the primary navigation to reduce the choices visitors have in order to start exploring the product range.</li> <li>Provide structure and clarity of the types of navigation categories visitors have to choose from.</li> <li>If you have new-in and/or sale items, provide quick access to these areas.</li> <li>Use cookies to store which core category a visitor spends most time in, and when they come back to your homepage URL, redirect them back in to that category (this is a subtly executed spot of personalisation that ASOS provides).</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing</strong><strong>:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Repeat key USPs at the bottom or in the side of the mega menu.</li> <li>Introduce imagery to attract attention to core categories or relevant/seasonal ranges.</li> </ul> <h3>Continually communicate UVPs and USPs throughout the user journey</h3> <p>Not content with making its USP messages “pop” off the page in the header, ASOS has never been shy about repeating these message throughout the user journey.</p> <p>It’s something that another brand I admire, AO.com, also embraces, and I’ve detailed in-depth how it does this previously in my article titled: <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66768-ao-com-the-best-ecommerce-experience-available-online/">AO.com: The best ecommerce experience available online?</a></p> <p>So many other retailers simply don’t do this – they feel that as they have a USP bar in their site-wide header, that is enough and they don’t want to waste precious space repeating these messages in important real estate on core shopping pages.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Explore ways of using subtle animations as visitors scroll down a page to draw attention to key messages (ASOS does this on its homepage with the flying plane).</li> <li>Consider ways to repeat a key message in a highly visible part of the product page (ASOS does this under the product price).</li> <li>Add a key message aimed at persuading visitors to purchase in the bottom of the mini-basket.</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5160/UVP_in_mini_basket.PNG" alt="" width="562" height="377"></p> <ul> <li>Promote key messages in the shopping basket, whilst ensuring you don’t take the focus away from checking out.</li> <li>Utilise different visual techniques to draw attention to messages, such as simple, common iconography (remember people typically spend 99% of their time on other websites).</li> </ul> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5161/UVP_in_basket.PNG" alt="" width="593" height="384"></p> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Repeat key USPs at the bottom or on the side of your checkout pages.</li> <li>In addition to promoting USPs in the site-wide header, introduce a section within the footer which communicates core brand messages.</li> </ul> <h3>Provide a simplified, persuasive, non-committal way to begin building up your desired products</h3> <p>Wishlist functionality has been one of the out-of-box features for retailers since the late 1990s, but almost every retailer in 2016 requires visitors to register/sign-in to use it.</p> <p>For over five years, ASOS has allowed visitors to start adding items to their “saved items” without any mention or request to create an account or sign-up.</p> <p>Not only does this provide a seamless browsing experience for visitors whether they are logged in or not, but ASOS has always made “Save for Later” a core action it wants visitors to take.</p> <p>Back in 2010, James Hart (the then Ecommerce Director at ASOS) told me that the site literally sees hundreds of thousands of “saves” made every day.</p> <p>Most retailers tend to see wishlists or saved items as a nice to have but very much a low priority focus area for visitors during the browsing experience.</p> <p>ASOS is the complete opposite for good reason.</p> <p>It knows the importance of the commitment and consistency principle, which has been proven to demonstrate the increased probability of a purchase when people make a smaller initial commitment to lead up to the actual purchase.</p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5162/Screenshot__1_.png" alt="" width="595" height="451"></p> <ul> <li>Don’t force visitors to have to register or sign-up in order to use the save/love/wishlist function – use cookies initially, then encourage visitors to sign-up so they can access their list across devices.</li> <li>Don’t hide away the wishlist/saved items area – encourage visitors to use this functionality and visit this area, giving it similar prominence to your shopping bag.</li> <li>Allow visitors to save items directly from the product listing pages – don’t just provide this on the product page.</li> <li>Within the wishlist/saved items area, allow visitors to move products to their shopping bag, or scroll through individual product images without having to go to the product page.</li> <li>Integrate the wishlist/saved items area in to the shopping basket to encourage increased average order values and average order quantities.</li> <li>Make saving for later an integral part of the mobile browsing experience.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Introduce a section at the bottom of your browsing pages which promote the items in your saved items area, in addition to the typical section showing recently viewed items.</li> </ul> <h3>A focus on simplicity throughout the core user experience</h3> <p>Starting from the primary navigation but moving in to filtering product listing pages, the redesigned product page template, through to the shopping basket and checkout forms, simplicity is the name of the game.</p> <p>Why reinvent the wheel when you can just deliver the essentials really well<em>,</em> <em>then</em> adding in layers of engagement and persuasion to differentiate and keep visitors coming back?</p> <p>ASOS has embraced the approach of utilising white space to provide clarity on the core functions that visitors are looking for, with the product page being a primary example.</p> <p>The product page also provides an excellent example of encouraging visitors to browse through the available images within the big arrows.</p> <p>It sounds simple because it <em>is</em>, and it’s this simplicity that people really want in the vast majority of cases in all my years of experience.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0007/5164/product_page.PNG" alt="" width="596" height="560"></p> <p><strong>Lessons to learn from ASOS include:</strong></p> <ul> <li>Focus on delivering a smooth checkout process – <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/64669-21-first-class-examples-of-effective-web-form-design/">form best practice</a> is your best friend, yet for many retailers, that friend is nowhere to be seen – including the often unfriendly error messages when things go wrong.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Opportunities for A/B testing above and beyond what ASOS is currently doing: </strong></p> <ul> <li>Streamline <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/63444-ecommerce-best-practice-the-basket-add-what-is-it-and-how-should-it-work/">the add-to-bag experience</a> if visitors haven’t selected a size or colour, rather than displaying an error message alert box which visitors have to interact with in order to make a selection. <a href="http://www.very.co.uk">Very.co.uk</a> does this extremely well and I know that it performed significantly better when it was A/B tested against the current ASOS approach.</li> </ul> <h3>What do you think?</h3> <p>Thanks for reading and I hope it has provided ideas and opportunities which you can build in to the foundations of your ecommerce experience.</p> <p>So what are the highlights of the ASOS user experience for you? What areas do you feel it could improve upon?</p> <p>Which other retailers do what ASOS does but more intuitively or more persuasively? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67853 2016-05-16T14:20:00+01:00 2016-05-16T14:20:00+01:00 Lead generation forms: Five uncommon strategies to increase conversion rates Marcus Taylor <p>And despite the importance forms have, we rarely give them the attention they deserve. </p> <p>Below are five strategies you can use to take your forms to the next level. </p> <h3>1. Simplify your forms by reducing clicks-to-complete</h3> <p>When Microsoft released Windows Vista, fewer people shut down their PCs. Why?</p> <p>It turns out that Microsoft updated its shutdown command from a button to a dropdown box. This trivial change meant that users now had to click three times to shut their computer down instead of once.</p> <p>This small amount of additional effort led to a significant decrease in people using the feature. </p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.49.png" alt="" width="606" height="233"></p> <p>While there are no right or wrong question field types to use, it’s good practice to use field types that minimise the number of clicks-to-completion.</p> <p>Clickable image/icon buttons, like the ones in the Microsoft example in the top left image, are one of the most efficient form elements to use.</p> <p>Not only do they only require one click to answer, they also provide the user with visual prompts.</p> <p>The fewer clicks required to complete your form, the less brain cycles and cognitive load (i.e. ‘thinking’) is required for your users to complete it.</p> <p>In other words, the less your users have to think to complete your form, the better.</p> <p>As a rule of thumb I’ve found reducing the number of ‘clicks-to-completion’ to be a good technique for improving the simplicity and completion time of forms.</p> <h3>2. Focus on motivation &amp; outcomes</h3> <p>People use forms to achieve an outcome. The outcome your users are trying to achieve has a large impact on your conversion rate.</p> <p>After all, if you gave everyone a free Ferrari for using your form - you would likely have a near-100% conversion rate.</p> <p>While this is an exaggerated example, it illustrates how the performance of your form is influenced not only by the form itself - but by the promise of what lies on the other side of it. </p> <p>By clearly communicating the benefits of using your form you can increase the user’s desire to complete it.</p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.43.png" alt="" width="605" height="290"></p> <p>This is a common tactic used by dating websites. <a href="http://www.welovedates.com/">WeLoveDates</a> shows a photo of a happy couple placed next to the lead capture form.</p> <p>As the users of this website are likely to be looking for a relationship this image represents the outcome that they’re hoping for, and as a result, increases their motivation to join.</p> <h3>3. First impressions count</h3> <p>The first impression that your form creates helps visitors decide whether or not the outcome is worth their time and effort in filling out your form.</p> <p>So, first impressions matter. A lot.</p> <p>When we changed the lead capture form on the <a href="http://brokernotes.co">BrokerNotes</a> homepage from a dropdown question box to a full-page clickable image select box, we saw a 212% increase in people using the lead capture form. </p> <p>In addition to simplifying the questions, we tested adding large amounts of <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65722-18-highly-effective-examples-of-social-proof-in-ecommerce/">social proof</a> and text to manage the visitors’ expectations (e.g. indicating they’re on step one of two).</p> <p>All of this led to an improved first impression that converted over 46% of visitors.</p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.38.png" alt="" width="604" height="337"></p> <p>One of the best tips for improving the first impression that your form creates is to split it into multiple steps (if you’re currently using a single-step form).</p> <p>When designed well, multi-step forms appear less overwhelming, and have been repeatedly shown to <a href="http://conversionfanatics.com/multi-step-or-single-step-forms/">convert better</a> than single-step forms.</p> <h3>4. Use cognitive biases to your advantage</h3> <p>Cognitive biases are proven ways in which the brain makes illogical decisions.</p> <p>They can be thought of as ‘mental shortcuts’, such as jumping to the conclusion that a restaurant with a queue outside must be good.</p> <p>For example, it’s proven that people overvalue things that they play a part in building (known as the ‘IKEA effect’).</p> <p>There are <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias">hundreds of these cognitive biases</a>, which you can use to your advantage to improve your form’s performance.</p> <p>One application of this that can improve form completion is using a bias called the <a href="http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/endowed_progress.htm">endowed progress effect</a>. This bias proved that people are more likely to complete something if there is an illusion that progress has already been made.</p> <p>Here’s an example of the endowed progress effect in use. In this form, the progress bar starts one third complete, subtly indicating that by seeing the first step you’ve already made progress.  </p> <p>Because of this illusion of progress, users are more likely to go on to the second and third steps.</p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.32.png" alt="" width="603" height="408"></p> <p>There are hundreds of cognitive biases at your dispense. Use them wisely!</p> <h3>5. Don’t be afraid to make forms visual</h3> <p>The old adage says that a picture paints 1,000 words. Scientifically, this isn’t far from the truth.</p> <p>Our brains process images significantly faster than text. In fact, recent research from MIT found that the brain can identify images seen for <a href="http://news.mit.edu/2014/in-the-blink-of-an-eye-0116">as little as 13 milliseconds</a>!</p> <p>Images have an inherent advantage over text. Yet, most forms don’t use them.</p> <p>One of my favourite examples of a visual form is <a href="https://www.toptal.com/">TopTal.com</a>. </p> <p>TopTal could say “we keep your Skype details private”, but instead it places a subtle padlock icon in the ‘Skype username’ field implying that this will be kept private and secure. </p> <p>TopTal could use text in the dropdown question box, like most other forms.</p> <p>But instead it uses recognisable colourful icons that make it easier to process the range of options.</p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.27.png" alt="" width="607" height="327"></p> <p>In the form on <a href="https://www.ventureharbour.com/web-hosting-guide/">this web hosting guide</a>, you can see how without even having to read the questions, it’s clear what is being asked just from scanning the images. </p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.22.png" alt="" width="497" height="415"></p> <p>Images also make a form appear more engaging and less form-like.</p> <p>From my research studying high-converting forms, I’ve found that these kinds of forms, which appear more like ‘tools’ or ‘quizzes’, typically convert best.</p> <h3>Where to start?</h3> <p>Form optimisation can be overwhelming. With so many opportunities and elements to test, it can be difficult knowing where to start.</p> <p>If you’re not sure where to begin, I’d suggest using the <a href="https://leadformly.com/form-optimisation-pyramid/">Form Optimisation Pyramid</a> as a framework. </p> <p>Start at the bottom by brainstorming everything that can be done to increase the motivation your users have to use your form.</p> <p>For example, you might want to test using strong imagery or different copy to communicate why people should use your form.</p> <p><img src="https://www.ventureharbour.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Screen-Shot-2016-05-16-at-11.17.12.png" alt="" width="601" height="407"></p> <p>From here you can move on to brainstorming ways to improve the user’s ability to use the form.</p> <p>Is your form accessible to people who are colour blind? Is it easy to use on a mobile device in bright light? What about for users who like to navigate through forms using the tab key? </p> <p>Once your form passes this phase, you can then focus on ideas to improve the user’s peace of mind, ease of using your form, and how engaging your form is to complete.</p> <p>Most form optimisation advice focuses on usability and ease of use.</p> <p>Using the framework above will ensure that you first take a few steps back to consider the underlying motivation driving your form conversions and whether or not your visitors have the ability to convert.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/67727 2016-04-13T14:16:07+01:00 2016-04-13T14:16:07+01:00 The Competition & Market Authority issues open letter about fake reviews Edwin Bos <p>The results showed that - unsurprisingly - reviews influence consumer purchasing habits (it estimates that <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-acts-to-maintain-trust-in-online-reviews-and-endorsements" target="_blank">54% of UK adults consult online reviews</a> before making a purchase).</p> <p>At Reevoo <a href="https://blog.reevoo.com/the-government-cracks-down-on-fake-reviews-are-you-safe/" target="_blank">we reported on this</a> just as Amazon announced that it was introducing a new “machine learning” based review ranking system that promotes verified reviews over others (as much as an algorithm alone can, anyway).</p> <p>But the survey also brought to light more shady tactics by businesses trying to influence potential consumers.</p> <p>These ranged from posting fake reviews on to review sites, eliminating negative reviews (<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/8638-bad-reviews-improve-conversion-by-67/">even though this isn’t a good strategy</a>) and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67645-google-s-got-it-right-instead-of-bribing-bloggers-sort-out-your-website/" target="_blank">paying for endorsements in blogs</a> without making it clear to the people watching and reading.</p> <p>The CMA has now written <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/512560/An_open_letter_to_marketing_departments__marketing_agencies_and_their_clients.pdf" target="_blank">an open letter to marketing departments</a>, marketing agencies and their clients about the investigation and offering guidance on how to make sure they’re complying with industry standards.</p> <p>Most of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/online-reviews-and-endorsements-advice-for-businesses/online-reviews-giving-consumers-the-full-picture" target="_blank">the advice</a> is pretty obvious. For example:</p> <blockquote> <p>Don’t pretend to be a customer and write reviews about your products or other businesses’ products.</p> </blockquote> <h3>See what I mean?</h3> <p>But what is even more clear is that businesses which don’t comply with these guidelines could find that the consequences are significant:</p> <blockquote> <p>Writing or commissioning a fake review – in relation your own products or someone else’s – is a breach of consumer protection law and may lead to civil or even criminal action.</p> </blockquote> <p>Although it’s good to see the issue getting attention, I don’t think the CMA goes far enough, despite the stern wording.</p> <p>If the CMA was serious it would have regulated the industry rather than sending out a letter.</p> <p>There is plenty of incentive for businesses (£23bn of consumer spending is influenced by customer reviews) to publish fake reviews.</p> <p>However, regardless of the CMA’s guidance, I firmly believe that businesses shouldn’t be tempted into faking reviews or deleting negative ones. There's too much to lose.</p> <p>Consumers prize transparency and authenticity. Untampered user-generated content is one of the best ways brands can gain consumers’ trust.</p> <p>And as we’ve seen in recent scandals, trust is one of the hardest things for a brand to earn but one of the easiest things to lose.</p>