In the fast-moving and highly competitive world of ecommerce, you want to have maximum confidence that every aspect of the experience you offer to customers - from product page design to site navigation - is delivering the best results.
One of the best ways to gain this confidence is through A/B testing, a method that allows you to directly compare the effectiveness of one element of your site against another.
Here are five specific ways this approach can help you drive conversions and gain more revenue from your website:
1. Testing out imagery
There’s no denying the importance of visual assets when it comes to holding users' attention and encouraging them to make the leap from simply browsing to going ahead with a purchase. A/B testing can improve your understanding of how particular visual elements of your site are contributing to the customer experience and affecting web visitors' likelihood to buy.
Sleeknote, a firm that specializes in on-site messaging to engage users, highlighted the example of its Danish customer Lobeshop, which sells athletic apparel and outdoor gear. The company wanted to know if visitors would respond better to a message that appeared as pure text, or to one that was accompanied by imagery.
The results showed that conversions increased when the text was complemented by images. While this is unlikely to come as a surprise to experienced marketers, it's an example of how A/B testing can deliver the targeted insights you need to make important decisions in areas like customer messaging and page design.
2. Evaluating product presentation
Deciding how to present your products to web users can be a tricky balancing act. In the case of an online shop, showing too little could raise the risk of some products not getting enough exposure, but cramming pages with too much detail can be overwhelming and off-putting for the user.
By coming up with two potential page designs and seeing how well they perform against one another, you can draw conclusions about which option works best for you and your audience.
One possible approach is to test a page layout that favors product imagery against one that prioritizes educational information about specific items higher up the page.
3. Understanding your audience
A/B testing can make a direct contribution to ecommerce sales by optimizing key elements of your website, but it can also deliver benefits in areas like customer understanding, which can indirectly support sales and revenue generation in the long term.
Crazy Egg highlighted how A/B testing can contribute to audience understanding through the example of video game company Electronic Arts. The firm tested two versions of a sales page for the game Sim City 5, one of which offered a future sales incentive for pre-orders. Despite what conventional wisdom might suggest, the page with the incentive performed worse than the alternative that simply showed the game.
The conclusion taken from this was that, if you have a popular product that people already want to buy, they don't need an extra incentive. Furthermore, offers such as money off future purchases are unlikely to connect with people who are only interested in one very specific product.
4. Improving site navigation
Smooth navigation is a must if you want to minimize cart abandonment, maximize conversion rates and encourage users to make a return visit to your site. Customers who find your webpages difficult to navigate won't wait long before they give up and look elsewhere.
There are many aspects of site navigation that can be evaluated and improved through A/B testing, such as:
- Search boxes (where they’re placed and how big they are)
- Product menus (drop down vs static)
Systematically testing and comparing can help you find the optimal navigation methods and features for your audience.
5. Refining the checkout experience
Visitors coming to your site and adding items to their virtual basket is only part of the journey. True success depends on your ability to support customers throughout the whole buying experience, and that means offering a smooth, secure and hassle-free checkout.
A/B testing allows you to try different approaches to checkout so you can make informed decisions about which is the most likely to deliver maximum sales.
You could find, for example, that giving security logos and trustmarks a prominent position on your checkout page puts customers at ease and makes them feel more confident to complete a transaction.
Testing additional features such as progress indicators, to help buyers feel informed and supported throughout the purchase, can also make a valuable contribution to conversions and drive revenue generation.