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Out of all websites on the Internet, those in the ecommerce category have the greatest potential for improvement. After all, retailers are trying to squeeze every dollar they can out of the site, so anything that will improve conversion rates is worth trying.
One of the best ways to increase conversions is through the use A/B split testing, which is a technique that presents two versions of the same web page. One visitor sees version A (the “control”) while another see a different version (the test).
In A/B testing, it’s typical to change only one thing on the test page. (e.g., the size of product photos). You can conduct as many tests as you wish, but change only on thing at a time to see how that affects conversion rates.
Here’s a visual of how A/B testing works courtesy of BigCommerce, an ecommerce platform provider.
- Product Detail Pages – Product pages contain a lot of information – product photos description, details and specifications, and other options, each of which can be tested.
- Category pages – Visitors to product category pages will be scanning information to look for products that are right for them. It’s important to test various ways to show the products such as a grid version view versus a list view.
- Home page – This is often the first page people will see, so it’s vital to optimize it in order to pull people deeper into the site.
- Persistent calls to action – These are calls to action that persist through the entire site. “Given the exposure these elements receive, it’s always worthwhile testing them to boost conversions,” said Goward.
- Forms – Acccording to Goward, forms are an essential conversion point that can have a major impact on conversion rates.
As mentioned earlier, ecommerce pages – particularly product detail pages – contain plenty of information. In those cases, A/B split testing can be particularly beneficial. Here are some areas where testing should be used:
1. Product images
Online retailer Mall.cz lifted their conversions by 9% just by increasing the size of their product images.
2. Shipping costs and speed
SmileyCookie, an online retailer of cookies, saw a 41% sales increase simply by changing shipping to next-day. Free shipping is another option, though not always affordable, especially for smaller merchants.
3. Page copy
When a prospective customer visits a product page, it’s likely he or she will want more information. Therefore, having descriptive copy is a good thing. This is another area that can benefit from A/B testing.
Experiment by making copy shorter, longer, or placing it in different locations on the page. Even small changes can have an enormous effect. By adding two words next to a sign up button for its email newsletter, Dmix, a web app retailer, experienced a 28% jump in conversions. The two words: “It’s free.”
Of course, always keyword-optimize the text so that it appeals to search engines.
Shoppers like to “feel the merchandise,” something that impossible to do when shopping online. The next best thing is to provide product videos that demonstrate its features and ways to use it.
A report from online video marketing guide ReelSEO found that visitors who have the option to watch a video convert at a higher rate than those who don’t have the option, even if they don’t watch it.
5. Calls to Action
From changing colors and text on “Buy Now” or “Sign-up” buttons, to where they are placed on the page, ecommerce calls to action are one area where testing is not an option. Mentioned earlier, forms should be included, as well.
Other Testing Options
There are many, many other testing options too numerous to mention here. A short list include:
- Warranty or guarantee information on product pages
- Customer reviews
- Payment methods or cost of shipping
- Related products
- Placement of and text used in search boxes
- Trust and award badges
And on and on…
Here are three articles that outline the many different ways to use A/B testing on ecommerce sites:
- 10 Elements Every Ecommerce Site Should Conversion Test
- Testing Ideas for Ecommerce and Retail Sites
- 15 Ecommerce A/B Testing Ideas to Make Your Cash Registers Ring Faster Than Ever
Ecommerce Website Optimization Platforms
Now that you know a little about ecommerce site optimization and testing, you may be wondering how to implement it on your site. The good news is that others have figured it out for you.
Two companies that offer expertise and technology tools to conduct A/B split testing (and other forms) are: Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer (long name, great product). Both offer pricing to fit any size business and can handle the heavy lifting for you.
Be sure to check out Visual Website Optimizer’s guide to A/B testing. It’s a helpful tutorial that should answer any question you may have about the technique.