By Kim Ann King
Chief Marketing Officer, SiteSpect
Every once in a while it pays off to “test outside the lines.” Don’t get stuck in a testing rut and run the same old tests on copy and layout to increase clicks and conversions. It’s high time to shake up your site testing plan, and start testing new elements such as form length, shipping prices, location, mobile display, and more. Here are seven ways to freshen up your testing strategy:
#1 – Test the Ideal Form Length
Many optimization experts believe that the shorter the form, the higher the conversion rate. But that’s not always the case. Case in point: a SiteSpect client recently tested a longer version of its signup process. Test results proved that the longer form actually resulted in higher engagement and signups. Another client tested multiple variations of its address collection form to determine which length was optimal, leading to an increase in form completion rates of 8.75%. The winner? The one with an additional, optional address field.
Bottom line: Shake up your form testing initiatives by trying longer form lengths with more form fields or additional form pages, as counter-intuitive as that sounds. Don’t let predisposed assumptions be a block to higher conversions.
#2 – Test How to Best Personalize Location-based Content
Multivariate testing and targeting allows you to optimize content based on your customer’s location and customize the checkout and registration process accordingly. For example, if a site visitor from London is looking for an item to purchase, test displaying the UK flag, showing prices in pounds instead of dollars, and giving relevant international shipping estimates. In this instance, your site and checkout form can also be customized for British English, versus American English, helping to increase the likelihood the visitor will complete the checkout process.
Bottom line: Test information relevant to the visitor’s location and customize your registration and checkout process accordingly. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes!
#3 – Use Location to Test What Weather-related Content to Display
A visitor’s location can also play an important role in what they are searching or shopping for. For example, winter visitors from Vail, Colorado, which receives significant yearly snowfall, should be far more interested in snow-related items (such as shovels, ski boots, or winter jackets) than visitors from Florida.
Bottom line: A visitor’s location can play an important role in what they’re searching for. Test showing relevant weather-related offers and merchandise to visitors based on their location.
#4 – Test Checkout Experiences for Known versus Unknown Visitors
Try testing two different checkout flows, one for visitors who are already logged in, and another for new or returning visitors who are not logged in. Ideally, you can direct the logged-in visitor to a single checkout form to complete a purchase, whereas new visitors may have to enter their name, address, and payment information.
Bottom line: This simple idea can help drive repeat customers to purchase more, increase their average order value, and drive additional business metrics.
#5 – Test Optimal Free Shipping Thresholds
Free shipping can be one of the best incentives to convert browsers into buyers. But this benefit should be tested until an optimal threshold for increased conversion rates has been found. What works for one organization may not work for another.
A small increase in threshold, such as from $30 to $35, could increase average order values and thus increase bottom-line revenue — but it could also have an opposite effect and cause fewer visitors to convert. Look at your own internal pricing data and the current free shipping threshold to determine the cost to achieve free shipping within your test, and then iteratively roll out the test to your audience.
Be sure to measure these free shipping cost changes thoroughly so you have as much data as possible to make informed shipping cost decisions.
Bottom line: Free shipping can be one of the best incentives to convert browsers into buyers.
#6 – Test Checkout Plug-ins
Throughout the checkout or registration process, there are numerous areas where a visitor can just give up out of frustration and exit. That’s why most e-commerce sites feature plug-ins designed to alleviate anxiety. For example, many sites include an option to chat with a representative when making a purchase.
In this new testing idea, you can run a simple A/B test by using your testing tool to turn off chat for half of your audience in order to validate that the plug-in is helping increase conversions for the other half.
Bottom line: It’s worth testing whether these plug-ins are performing the way you expect.
#7 – Test Mobile Display for Both Tablets and Smartphones
Many marketers treat tablets the same as smartphones and group them under a general heading of “mobile.” The truth is, mobile visitors have vastly different behavior when using a tablet versus a smartphone.
According to IBM Benchmark Hub reports from Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2013, tablet visitors actually spent double the amount of time on e-commerce sites, and converted 50% more often than smartphone visitors.
With this in mind, consider your overall mobile experience and what that looks like on both a smartphone and a tablet. Ensure you are taking advantage of the increased screen real estate afforded by tablets and the time that tablet users are spending on your site to make the most of the mobile shopping experience.
If you do not have a site that is optimized for the screen size of tablets, consider a test that sends site visitors to the full desktop version of your site instead of a smartphone-optimized version. However, in the best case scenario, you should have a unique experience designed for smartphone, tablet, and desktop visitors that optimally utilizes the screen size for each device.
Bottom line: Mobile visitors have vastly different behavior when using a tablet versus a smartphone.
These are just some ideas to put new life into your web and mobile testing initiatives. Just about anything on a website can be tested, from how it looks to how it works. Companies can test and optimize both front-end content and back-end functionality, while creating relevant experiences for every site visitor. Going into any test without preconceived notions can deliver results and increased conversions beyond expectations. Not convinced? Test it! Would you like to learn more? Download SiteSpect’s whitepaper entitled “7 Ways to Refresh Your Optimization Strategy.”
About the Author
Kim is an award-winning marketing executive and has been a business-to-business marketer for nearly 30 years.
She currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of web optimization firm SiteSpect, where she is responsible for demand generation, brand awareness, and sales readiness initiatives that drive customer acquisition and retention.
Throughout her career, Kim has built global brands and positive market presence, helping to successfully launch several well-known technology companies, including host security provider Bit9, Internet content delivery provider Akamai Technologies (the fourth-most successful IPO on NASDAQ in 1999), and e-commerce pioneer Open Market (IPO in 1996).
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