Business Performance Conversion Testing

Making a business case for conversion testing

You see case studies like…

PPC Landing Page Optimization Test with 32.5% Conversion Rate Lift

How we increased the conversion rate of by over 400%

eCommerce Retailer Lifts Sales Conversion Rate by 22% with Conversion Rate Optimization

Soocial: how two magical words increased conversion rate by 28%

…and you just know you should be doing conversion testing (A/B, multi-variant, usability, etc.) on your website. Problem is, you have these other projects to do, you don’t have the resource to assign it to someone else and there is little awareness of conversion testing elsewhere in the company, particularly amongst senior decision makers.

So how do you change that?

Two routes:

1) Case Studies and Hypothetical Data

Take those case studies, pull your analytics data, and build a business case to present to your boss.

The case studies will act as social proof. Look what happened when these (reputable) brands took the initiative. Look at the payoff. This will build confidence during the decision-making process.

Show them the datA from your conversion funnels. We spend our Marketing budget pushing potential customers into the top of the funnel and look how many come out the other end. At this point show them some hypothetical numbers. If we can increase conversion by 10% it will mean £X in additional revenue.

This is important, as you’ll need to be able to demonstrate the financial gain versus the costs of conversion testing (which may only be time – yours and the technical resource to implement).

If your numbers stack up, you’ll have a strong case for implementing a conversion testing programme.

2)  Just Do It

Route 2 is a little maverick.

If you feel like you might need a little more evidence than presented in Route 1, then its time to take matters into your own hands.

The success of this will depend on how your company works internally. A single conversion test, such as an A/B test, doesn’t take much work. For instance, it could involve making changes to just a single static page. All you need is to know what you want to test, tracking code from Google’s free Website Optimizer and a friendly web designer to make the graphics and implement it for you.

(Just make sure the outcome of your test will be significant enough. If the 10% improvement translates into an actual revenue increase of £100 is that really going to impress?)

So, your test runs relatively incognito and you get real data and measurable impact. Providing your results are positive of course, you now have demonstrable proof that conversion testing works for your business.

Both routes could work. You just need to choose the route that is the most applicable to your business. The important takeaway is that you need to prove that it’s the right thing for your business to do. I can’t believe there is a website or business that couldn’t be improved through some form of conversion testing. You just need to show them how.

Business Performance Conversion Testing

5 ways to make your site credible and increase conversions

When you hear someone refer to ‘optimising the website’ you probably think one of two routes – search engine optimisation or A/B and multi-variant testing.

What you probably don’t think of immediately is optimising your website’s credibility.

It doesn’t matter how well you’ve optimised your ecommerce funnel, how much traffic your search efforts bring, you’ll still be missing your potential if your visitors don’t trust you and your site.

They simply won’t buy, sign-up, download or recommend.

So how do you establish credibility?

Here are 5 ways…

1. Appearance

You have approximately 1/20th of a second to make a good first impression with a website visitor. That’s all it takes for someone to form an opinion of your site. Not long is it?

The classic quote in Conversion circles is from a study by B.J. Fogg from Stanford where it was revealed that ‘75% of respondents admit to making a judgement about the credibility of an organisation based on the design of the website’.

That study is over a decade old, but with advancements in design and technology and today’s more discerning web user with higher expectations, it would be surprising if that figure had not increased further.

So what does your site look like at first glance? Does it look modern and professional or does it look like it was built about the same time as Fogg’s study? Can a visitor tell immediately what your site does and how it will meet their needs?

You don’t need to spend a fortune on web design. There are plenty of low cost options (such as if you don’t have the budget to hire a talented in-house designer yourself. Just make sure your site looks credible…somewhere you’d spend your own money.

(Bear in mind Google’s new Instant Preview functionality in search results – if a searcher hovers over the magnifying glass and your site appears, are they going to click or move on to the next site in the listing?)

2. Trust marks

Trust marks are (usually) logos from third parties that are designed to reassure the visitor. Typically they’re from known, reputable organisations that the visitor trusts. It’s like trust by association. If these companies have their logo on this site it must be a good/trustworthy site to use.

Good examples to use:

  • Trade associations (if you’re a member)
  • Industry institutes or bodies (if you’re a member)
  • Secure payment handlers you use (i.e. Paypal)
  • Consumer rights accreditation (i.e. Which? Best Buy award)
  • Media logos (where mentioned)
  • Client / partner logos

Using logos of the businesses that already work with you – either as a client or partner – can be a great way of reassuring a potential customer. If these big name companies that I recognise are using them, I guess it’s fine if we do too.

3. Social proof

Social proof is also known as the wisdom of the crowd – when in a situation where we’re unsure of a decision to make, humans tend to look to see how others have acted in that instance. If all those people have done it, I should probably do the same.

This can be a very powerful tool when optimising for conversions. The moments leading up to a purchase (or whatever your conversion metric may be) are where confidence waivers the most. If you can show that others have reached, and passed this point and are very happy they did, then it will do wonders for your conversion rate.

Examples of social proof are:

  • Customer testimonials (keep them brief)
  • Numbers (i.e. downloads, subscribers, etc.)
  • Product reviews

4. Transaction reassurance

Everyone uses Amazon. It’s so synonymous with online retail that we rarely consider if anything untoward will happen when we buy our next book or lawnmower.

Most sites don’t have that luxury, however. For the rest of us, we need to reassure the visitor that their data is safe with us. You can do this by displaying the trust mark of your payment handler, but you should also consider how you would answer these visitor questions:

  • Is this site secure?
  • How and who will take my money? (i.e. Paypal)
  • Do they have a returns policy or any guarantees?
  • What happens to my data?

Answer these questions and you’ll be a step closer to the conversion.

5. Something for nothing

Okay, not strictly for ‘nothing’. You’ll want something in return.

Not all transactions will happen on the first visit. One of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment is that sometimes visitors are just not ready to buy.

However, even if a visitor is just researching options, this is a great opportunity to build some credibility for your site. Take the opportunity to give them something – a buyer’s guide, weekly email tips or a tool – that is of some value to them. To appear to be helpful, to offer guidance, is to move you towards a ‘trusted advisor’ role.

In return, you’ll have collected their email address during this process, which combined with your new credible status, will make a future sale smoother.

These are just 5 ways to build credibility to help improve your conversion rates. There are many more. I’d love to hear what you’ve done on your own site, or any ideas you may have that others could try. Please feel free to share your thoughts via the comment section below.

Business Performance Conversion Testing Uncategorized

How to fix the REAL reasons behind your abandoned shopping carts

In early November at the Conversion Conference in London, I had the good fortune to hear Charles Nicholls from SeeWhy speak about abandoned online shopping carts.

He cited a Forrester Research study from earlier this year that examined the reasons why website visitors abandon online shopping carts. The top 5 were:

  1. Shipping and handling costs were too high – 44%
  2. I was not ready to purchase the product – 41%
  3. I wanted to compare prices on other sites – 27%
  4. Product price was higher than I was willing to pay – 25%
  5. Just wanted to save products in my cart for later consideration – 24%

Interestingly these 5 reasons can be classified into 2 groups:

  • Issues relating to cost
  • Issues relating to readiness to buy

Whilst you should quite rightly review your shopping cart process to increase conversions, addressing both these other issues may in fact have a greater impact.

1. Cost

Comparison sites, such as and, have made it very easy for consumers to find the best price for a product, dramatically reducing the research time and frustration of visiting multiple websites. Whilst that’s great for the consumer it’s meant the business owner needs to ensure her prices are competitive if she is to secure the sale from an ever more transient audience.

It’s not just the product price; the shipping charges are a bigger concern. Buying a discounted book at £6.99 suddenly looks less attractive when you discover you need to add £3.50 to cover postage. In some cases it’s suddenly more expensive than shopping instore.

The two most common ways of addressing this are unconditional and conditional free shipping.

With unconditional free shipping the company absorbs the cost, either by holding the product price and eating into the profit margin or by upping the price to cover the postage. Both can be unhealthy for a business in the long term. It might be okay for a promotional period but you have to do the maths to know whether you’re attracting enough additional business to offset the cost.

The alternative might be conditional – offering free shopping once the consumer purchases a set amount. If you set that threshold at the right point you’ll find your average order price will increases as shoppers add a second item to their order to qualify for the free shipping.

This is the most popular offer from recruiters, with a survey quoted in the NY Times, stating that 71% of surveyed businesses would use this approach this year versus less than half taking the unconditional route.

The same article, however, highlights the risk of experimenting with shipping, referencing a case study that revealed that Timberland would need to generate 40% more sales to justify the cost of an unconditional free shipping promotion.

2. Readiness to buy

You may think there is little you can do if someone is not ready to buy. Many businesses will rely on the potential customer coming back when they have made a decision, but it’s a rather risky approach to take.

So what can you?

Speak to them – why are they not ready? Understand the issues and look for solutions. It may be that they just need a little more information. Run a survey like KissInsights or call if you have a telephone number.

Price comparison – if you’re confident about your prices, why not save them the hassle of research and show your prices versus your competitors. If you’re the cheapest, great, but if not demonstrate why it’s still better to buy from you (i.e. warranty, free accessories, loyalty points, etc).

A Free Whitepaper example from

Whitepaper & tools – Offer them a free whitepaper, guide or tool relevant to the product they’re considering buying in exchange for their email address. By giving the visitor something of value, you’re positioning yourself as an authority on the subject and providing a positive brand experience. As such they’ll be more inclined to part with their email address (for you to remarket to) and you’ll be a step closer to a future sale.

Scarcity & Urgency – how can you create a sense of urgency to encourage a quicker or immediate sale? Add a time-sensitive price (i.e. Offer ends Monday), or limit availability (i.e. Limited edition prints).

Build Confidence – when they say they’re not ready to buy, maybe they’re just not ready to buy from you. Maybe they don’t have confidence in you just yet. So what can you do?

You need to provide assurance. That could be via authorative trust marks, such as secure transactions seals, badges from trade association or industry body membership, logos of media you have appeared in/on or customer or influencer testimonials (social proof). These will help build credibility and confidence in your brand.

Finally, if you can afford it and have the resources, give them a Free Review. This can be just a sampling of your service, but like the Whitepaper, should give them something of value. The customer feels they are getting something for free (who doesn’t love a freebie?) and at the same time you get to showcase your business and product to them.

It’s not easy selling online; so many factors are out of your control. Leaving it to chance however, will not grow your business. Understand you customers, understand why they don’t buy and then address their concerns quickly. Then sit back and watch your conversion rates and revenue rise.

(Actually that’s just the beginning, there is a lot more work to be done, including continuous conversion optimisation to ensure you’ve got right. But, hey, that’s a story for another day)

What changes to your site or ecommerce pages have you made that helped you reduce your shopping cart abandonment? I’d love to hear your tips, please share them in the comments below.