11 Product Page Testing Ideas for 2011

Get Elastic has been granted permission from our friends Khalid Saleh and Ayat Shukairy of Invesp Consulting and O’Reilly Publishing to share the product page testing ideas mentioned in their recent book Conversion Optimization:
The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers
(these are 11 of 49 testing ideas in the book).

Product Pages

Micro and macro conversions

We like to test product pages twice with different conversion goals:

Micro conversion goal
When a visitor adds an item to the cart, we get a conversion.

Macro conversion goal
When a visitor completes an order, we get a conversion.

Product page images
The right format and presentation of product images can mean significant increases in conversion rates. However, these types of tests are expensive due to the investment required to produce different product images. Of course, the cost will also grow as you add more products. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

Showing the product in use
Test the page with an image that shows the product in use, and then again with an image that shows the product against a plain background. Although in many cases showing the product in use helps visitors envision themselves using the product, this is not the case for all products. For example, apparel websites seem to benefit from this feature, but electronics or book websites do not see large increases in conversions.

Choosing the right location
Where should you place the hero image? Common wisdom is to place product images on the right side of product pages. But common wisdom fails to predict how visitors will act on your website. So, test image placement on the left and right to see which converts better.

Zooming in on the product
If you have the software capability, allowing visitors to zoom in and examine a product closely is an excellent feature to test.

Using multiple product images
Consider including multiple images of the product. We usually recommend using three or four high-quality images per product to start. When given the option, we will go with a single high-quality image over multiple low-quality images.

Product descriptions

Most ecommerce stores use product descriptions provided by the manufacturer. As a result, you will find the same description on competing ecommerce stores. With your best-selling products:

• Test the impact of having standard manufacturer descriptions versus custom copy your team creates. What impact will that have on the micro conversion (visitors adding items to their cart)?

• Test different versions of the custom copy you create. Not all copy is created equal. You might want to test technical copy versus nontechnical copy. Consider the dif- ferent personas for your site and what words will have the most impact on them.

Product reviews

Reviews are great for increasing conversions. Many studies have shown that prod- uct reviews are responsible for up to 30% uplift in conversions. However, if you are just starting out, reviews are difficult to get. So, begin by allowing customers to add reviews to your site, but do not display them on the site immediately. When a product collects enough reviews, share the reviews with your visitors.

Add-to-cart buttons

You can test many scenarios with the “add-to-cart” button:

• The location of the button
• Different designs for the button
• The wording on the button

Cross-sells and upsells

Cross-sells and upsells can help you sell more to customers by providing them with items that complement the products they already selected. But cross-sells and upsells can also distract visitors. So, test the placement of cross-sells and upsells on your prod- uct pages as well as other pages of the site.

Pricing

Most website visitors will do some sort of comparison shopping. Testing different prices will determine their impact on conversion rates. In 2007, one of our clients reported a 135% increase in conversion rate by lowering product prices by 10%. Price testing is more complex compared to other forms of testing. Yet during a recession, when visi- tors are price-sensitive, price testing can produce the most impact on conversion rates.

Product availability

Customers do not like to add an item to their cart only to discover when they’re ready to pay that the item is out of stock. Linking ecommerce stores with an inventory system will help you avoid such hassles. Here are some general rules of thumb to follow:

Bad
There is no mention of product availability on your site.

Good
You always display product availability on your site.

Excellent
You display messages to encourage customers to buy a product if you have limited stock available. Example: “Only 5 left in stock—order soon!”

Figure 9-13 shows the product page from Ecost.com. Although the page design is crowded with information and is not well designed, the site displays product availability information and shows a message to encourage visitors to place an order within a certain time frame.

Figure 9-13. ecost.com’s use of product availability information

When can I have it?

Tell visitors when the product will be in their hands. Being vague and telling them their order will arrive sometime in the next few weeks will simply kill your conversion rate, or at least irritate customers.

Bundled shipping costs

Consider bundling shipping costs with products so that visitors will not have to worry about paying for shipping. We highly recommend bundling shipping costs if they are too complicated to understand, or if they are expensive.

Navigation after clicking the add-to-cart button

Where do you direct visitors after they click on the add-to-cart button? Are you forcing them to view the cart page? If this is the case, you are polluting the cart page analytics with the number of visitors who are forced to be there. Test different locations to redirect visitors after they add an item to their cart:

• Direct visitors to the standard cart page.
• Direct visitors to a special upsell and cross-sell cart page. This is a custom cart page that will contain a summary of the items in the cart with a focus on upselling additional products to the visitor.
• Keep visitors on the same product page, but display a small pop up with a mini-cart.
• Keep visitors on the same product page, but display a small pop up indicating the item was added to the cart page.

Have you tested any of these ideas? Please share your experience in the comments


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