eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Case Study
We’ve all been there:
On the endless hamster wheel.
You spend many long days and sleepless nights fighting tooth and nail to get more people to your site.
– You work on your SEO endlessly,
– You spend a big chunk of your revenue on ads.
– You hustle on social media just like Gary V told you to.
It seems the only way to make more money is to keep on increasing your site’s traffic.
Same hustle, day in and day out.
But that really isn’t the only way:
You can work on your conversion rates and it will open the floodgates to more revenue.
With the same traffic, you can make 30 to 100% or more money compared what you’re making now, using a little conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
With even just a single winning test, you’ll immediately see a boost to your income. Sometimes possible with just one simple tweak to your page. And all you need to do is apply some CRO techniques to find these magical tweaks.
That’s not all.
This is a system that is scalable, repeatable and most importantly, data-driven.
It’s one-time work that will continue to grow your revenue into the future, at no further cost or effort to you.
What could be better than that?
Take, for example, one of our clients,
Just Thrive is a health company based in Illinois, USA.
They sell supplements that are non-GMO, gluten, dairy and nut-free.
Most of their traffic comes from search and costly paid ads.
When they approached us, they wanted to increase conversions on their auto-ship subscriptions and get a better return on their ad spend.
In less than 3 months, we not only achieved these targets for them, but increased their revenue by over 100%.
Imagine what that would look like for your business.
You don’t have to get any more traffic. Yet you significantly boost your income.
Today, I’ll show you exactly what we did to increase Just Thrive’s revenue. I’ll also dish out some marketing truths that play a big part in how I approach conversion rate optimization experiments.
I hope this helps you go beyond quick fixes like changing button colors, to understanding why people will buy from you and not your competitor. Because this knowledge helps you create winning conversion increasing campaigns no matter what niche or site you work on.
But before we talk results, let’s talk about the birth of every CRO test
“CRO is all about data, and that is the only information you should rely on. No matter how many years of experience your web developer or UI designer might have, they can’t always know what’s going to work with your audience.” – Hubspot–
I couldn’t agree more. And not understanding that is exactly why many people fail in CRO:
What works for one site or audience is not guaranteed to work with another.
Data is the foundation of good CRO practice. But equally important is an analytical mind.
And at the start of a CRO campaign, you need to do ask some strategic scientific questions to guide your actions.
Here are some questions that can help you with this:
- What’s the one goal of the page?
- Does the page answer the visitor’s intent and clearly show the path that leads to a conversion?
- Do all the important elements from the image, to the copy, to the layout, seamlessly work together to support the one goal?
- Does the page build trust and lessen anxiety or confusion?
Be brutal and honest when answering these questions. I know your site is your baby. But this is how you find the “flaws” that may be limiting your conversions. Sometimes you’ve seen your own site so many times you can no longer view it objectively. In these situations it can be very valuable to have an outsider audit your site.
I follow the same process every time I audit a site.
And when I looked at Just Thrive’s product pages, I knew there were two big things we needed to address moving forward:
1) The customers: This niche has customers with high buying motivations. They have problems they want to get rid of yesterday. But, many of them may have been burnt in the past by companies who underdeliver. Plus news of vitamin and supplement scams online doesn’t help. So they’re a bit wary. This meant that they probably land on the site holding their trust tightly in their fist.
2) On Selling Multiple Products: Just Thrive’s product pages have a myriad of product choices. This creates friction. When a customer has to make a choice at the moment of purchase, it can stop them in their tracks and postpone the decision. The good thing was that Just Thrive wanted more auto-ship subscriptions. So the goal was to steer the visitor to choose that over the other two options on the page.
With these things in consideration, the Convertica team got down to the nitty-gritty:
- We went over their analytics with a fine-tooth comb.
- We got a heatmaps going to see where the users were clicking, or trying to click.
- We referred to our long list of proven tests and hypothesis relevant to this niche that we’ve run before..
- And from this, we put together a first hypothesis.
Yes, a hypothesis.
We may have done thousands of tests, and we may sometimes think that we know exactly what to do to increase conversions — but all that means nothing until the analytics show us the real data.
Just because something worked on one site, doesn’t mean it’s going to work on another – even in the same niche. There are too many things that could affect the results of your experiment.
Sure, the more conversion expertise you have, the more often your hypothesis will be big winners from the get-go. But that doesn’t mean CRO experts get to not test their hypotheses. Any conversion service that offers to implement changes on your site without explicitly testing and showing you the data, is simply cutting corners.
So, as I was saying,
We start with a carefully formed hypothesis. And we wait for what the data tells us. We try, hard as it is, not to let our ego get in the way.
After our initial deliberations, our experienced development team got to work and built this new design ready for a split-test.
These are the things we changed:
- We minimized visual clutter by changing the image and putting more white space around it
- Since trust is something of importance here, we changed the social icons to trust signals
- Because we wanted to push the auto-ship subscription, we made this more prominent in the layout
Do you want a guaranteed 20-100% conversion rate increase?
Here is what the original layout looked like.
Here is what our first winning variation looked like.
We deployed this campaign on the 7th of December. After a little over a month, on the 15th of January, our assumptions proved to be correct.
Here are the results of the first test with 98% significance.
Our first winning variation increased total conversion rate increased by 25.4% over the control.
Autoship subscriptions increased by 41.5 %.
……and the revenue went up by 30.4%.
We were quite pleased with the increase in auto-ship subscriptions, because that was, after all, our main goal.
Now here’s the thing…
That’s only the very first test. One test. Over a 6 month campaign we can complete up to 12 tests with significant wins almost every time.
We were just getting warmed up.
In CRO, you should never stop after just one test.
You glean some insights from one test and then you try and push that further with another test.
And push we did.
We went back to the drawing board and formed a new hypothesis. With more specific data learned from the first test, it was time to take it to the next stage.
Here’s the second variation.
You may have noticed that we changed a few different elements here. The main thing here to take note of was that we set the autoship product variation to default.
Most of the time, our rule is to change as few elements as possible. However, we wanted quick results here so we opted to simultaneously test the optimizations based on what worked in the past from our thousands of tests. If this didn’t test well, we would have scaled back on the changes then tested again.
We released this new variation on the 15th of February against our first improved variation.
On the 24th of March, we had the results.
That’s an 85.19% increase in auto-ship subscriptions.
53.73% increase in the total number of orders.
And a 54.77% increase in revenue. Compared to the already improved 2nd version.
How about that, huh?
This 54.77% increase was against our first test variant that already produced a 30.4% increase, meaning the cumulative revenue increase for these two split tests is 101.82%! (1.5477 x 1.304).
Not to mention the bigger win here being the cumulative increase of 162% in recurring revenue.
By now you’re probably wondering…
“That’s all great, Kurt. But where do I start if I want to increase conversions on my own site?”
Well, keep reading.
I’m about to share some lessons I’ve learned running thousands of tests so you can optimize your product pages as we did with JustThrive.
But first, a warning.
This isn’t about the best words for your call to action button or the perfect image to use. I’ve already got a post about that here.
Instead, this is about your mindset and the mental shift that needs to take place if you want to become a CRO master.
You see, CRO is not about changing elements on the page and doing psychological hocus-pocus to lure visitors to buy your goods. It’s a scientific process.
At the very heart of it is understanding what influences your customers to buy from you.
And to understand your customers, there are some realities to reconcile yourself to.
1. Your product page is not just a product page
Your product page is not just a showcase for your amazing gadget.
It’s the place where your customer’s dreams come true. So don’t ask questions like:
- How can we make this page look cool?
- How can we win the Webby Awards with this design?
Instead, ask these questions:
- When my potential customer lands on this page, does he know he’s at the right place within the first 2 seconds?
- Are all the images crisp and clear so that he knows exactly what this page is about just by scanning it?
- Is the description specific and complete, so that the visitor has all the information he needs to make the decision right there and then?
- Is the content easy to understand? Does it answer every objection and question he may have?
- Is it clear what makes you better than others?
- Does it lessen your customer’s fear of buying online?
Always ask these questions when you build your product page, and you’ll have done a lot more than many eCommerce stores.
2. You’re guilty until proven innocent
People hate to let go of their hard-earned money. They hate marketers even more.
Add to this the many stories of fraud, lies and scams that they hear about online.
And you’ve got a customer who starts a relationship with you with a very low level of trust.
And if you think that’s bad. It doesn’t stop there.
You’ve got a customer who’s bombarded with options.
He’s fickle and knows he can go somewhere else with the click of the back button or a quick google search.
When he looks at your product page, he has 3 other tabs open – all of them your competitors.
And the product page that breaks that barrier and radiates trustworthiness will get that person’s business.
This means that your page from the copy, to the tone, to the flow, to the design should overcome this initial prejudice.
“..your copy needs to give me a sense of certainty not only that this is the right product but that you are the right guy.”
He further adds that your page has to answer this question:
“Why should I stay here rather than consider another option? What makes you so special? If I am your ideal customer, why should I purchase from you instead of any of your other competitors? Help me as a visitor to understand this is the place to look for my solution”
3. Your visitors owe you nothing
Tbh, product pages are great fun to optimize.
Because most visitors are already aware of what you’re selling.
But just because they’re ready to buy doesn’t mean they’ll buy it from you.
Just because they landed on your page doesn’t mean they’ll read every word on it.
As Steve Krug in his book, “Don’t Make Me Think,” says,
“Most web users tend to act like sharks. They have to keep moving, or they’ll die. We just don’t have the time to read more than necessary.”
So what do you do?
- Know your customer. Know the motivations that got him to your page. Know his questions. Know his objections. Know the exact words he uses to explain his pains and wishes.
- Make it clear as soon as he lands on the page that he’s in the right place.
- Make sure that your page answers the persistent question that hangs over every visitor’s head, “What’s in it for me?”
Keep these three things in mind when you build your product page. When you do, you can easily join in the conversation that goes on inside your visitor’s head.
Are you still with me?
Now that you know…
…that your product page is for meeting your customer’s needs.
…that your visitor comes to your page full of distrust
…and that your visitor feels no obligation to buy from you…
You can start to optimize your page.
And when you do, here’s a good rule of thumb.
Assume you know nothing about your customers
Yes, that’s right. Harvest all the research you need about your customers.
Once you start the test, shelve it in the corner.
Because all that research can’t tell you how your visitors will behave when they land on your page.
All that research will help you meet them halfway when you write the copy and design the layout.
But once they interact with your page, you never know what they will do.
You just have to test it in the field and test the validity of your assumptions.
Then and only then will you know if your visitors would do what you thought they would do.
Your assumptions are just assumptions until the data tell you otherwise.
“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu
Quick fixes and best practices can get you so far.
But if you want to become a CRO master, you need to operate beyond that and understand the motivations and pains that led your customer to your page.
You need to know that
- your product page is not about you, but your customers
- visitors to your page don’t trust you at first, and it’s your job to convince them
- visitors will always want to know what’s in it for them whenever they visit your page.
When you put all these into consideration, knowing which elements to tweak on your page becomes a smoother and easier endeavor.