If there’s one thing you can 100%, hands down be sure of in ecommerce, it’s you can never rely on your gut feel for web design, marketing, copywriting, etc. There are very few sacred cows in conversion optimization. “Best practices” are always worth challenging within the context of your business, product mix, customer base, web design and layout and current online shopping conditions.
But where should you begin testing?
A while back I teamed up with Anne Holland, founder of Marketing Sherpa and WhichTestWon.com on a webinar entitled Best Ecommerce Tests to Raise Sales (please check it out if you haven’t seen it).
At the beginning of the webinar, Anne shared some fantastic tips for what not to do, and what to do when beginning your testing efforts.
1. Don’t start with the home page. Conversions don’t happen on the home page, and a large portion of your visits won’t even land on your home page, rather your product pages through SEO, shopping engines, paid search, and affiliate links. Rather, test downstream in the conversion funnel (aka checkout), because visitors that get that far are more likely to convert than “anyone else in the universe.” Start where the money is and work backwards.
2. Don’t start with your worst performing page. This is another myth that has gained popularity. Yes, you want to improve bad pages, but even if you get, say, a 40% lift – it’s a 40% lift on a low traffic or low value page. “40% of almost nothing is still almost nothing.” If you pick a good performing page to optimize, the money shows up immediately. It’s much more exciting.
3. Test your search result and category pages. These pages are often living in the shadows of your sexy home page, product pages and checkout, but they’re key to getting visitors to the product pages! The Marketing Sherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Guide reveals that customers that use your internal site search are 80% more likely to convert. Don’t forget about category pages, which are very similar if not identical to search pages for many sites.
4. Choose pages with the most expensive traffic. If you’re spending top dollar to attract new visitors to a product or category, you want to make the most of that spend by minimizing bounce rates and maximizing committed purchases and cross-sell/upsell.
5. Run tests on affiliate landing pages. Unlike paid search traffic, you typically don’t pay for visits referred by affiliates, but affiliates are more impressed by online merchants that test. You may even give them custom landing pages and allow your affiliates to provide some input, as they are master marketers themselves.
Anne and the Which Test Won crew will reveal the winners of its “Best Tests of 2010? Awards in a webinar this Friday, February 25, sharing the most insightful testing takeaways from organizations like Dell, SAP and Crutchfield. Most of the tests are never-seen-before cases. Curious? Sign up today.