The Top 10 Testing, Targeting and Optimisation Best Practices

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A simple statement, but for many companies, the ability to create a relevant online customer experience remains a challenge. We have created this edition from the countless number of website testing and optimisation campaigns that have impacted ecommerce businesses like yours. Quite frankly, these strategies are proven winners. So, if you want to create online customer relevance, drive revenue, and increase conversions and average order value, turn the page to discover 10 successful website testing and optimisation strategies implemented by some of the best known brands in the world.

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1. New Versus Returning: Basic Segments, Big Implications

One of the most effective ways to segment website traffic is to distinguish between new and returning visitors. While this distinction is both familiar and valuable to those who measure website traffic acquisition efforts, it continues to be overlooked as a proven method to increase conversion rates and other key metrics.

While a first-time visitor may need to know the forms of payment you accept, how your items are shipped, or your return policy, conveying this and other information takes up valuable page real estate that returning visitors and frequent shoppers likely don’t need or want to see.

Show new customers unique content and callouts, while alerting returning customers to what has been updated on the website since their last visit. You can even personalise return visits for customers based on their average shopping cart value or their lifetime purchase value.

Merchandisers can take advantage of this important customer segment by showing different product recommendations, such as the most popular products to new visitors and brand-new products to returning visitors.

Segmenting new versus returning visitors is not only a more efficient use of page real estate, but can convert more first-time browsers into buyers and increase the order size of a returning visitor.

2. Location-based Targeting: Know Where Your Customers Are

By using technology that determines the physical location of website visitors, you can display location-specific messages and offers that help increase conversion. Two location-based best practices are geotargeting and weather-based targeting.

Geotargeting works exceptionally well to highlight synergies between your online and physical retail locations. Call out the closest location of a store so the customer can take advantage of free in-store pickup, or learn about in-store events nearby.

Another way geotargeting can pay dividends in conversion rate lift, higher average order value, and customer loyalty is to segment international traffic. Start by checking your website analytics to see how many visitors come from different countries and how well they convert.

Your international customers will be happy to know that you ship to their respective country, so tell them with banners, callouts or lightbox treatments. Country-specific targeting also can be extended to changing website navigation to the native language of a visitor, as well as converting prices into a different currency.

Cloudy in Chicago? Sunny in Los Angeles? Snowing in Vermont?

While brick-and-mortar retailers can respond rapidly to changing weather conditions, online merchants have typically been shut out of these sales opportunities. Use weather-based targeting to overlay the location of the user with real-time weather data and leverage this insight to deliver a more relevant message.

3. Product Badging: Highlight Products With Ease And Simplicity

You’re likely familiar with the merchandising tactic known as product badging and perhaps have already implemented this strategy on your website’s search results pages, category pages, home page, or product detail pages. Highlighting specific items with a product badge can increases sales of that item—as well as the overall conversion rate—even if you are not discounting the product.

Calling attention to specific products within a group—such as items that are on sale, newly arrived, or popular with other shoppers—with product badges can be much simpler and easier to do once you realise that you don’t need creative or IT resources. Overlay images or use dynamic text on top of existing product images and free your graphic designer or website developer to focus on other projects.

The specific business rules that you create determine where a badge should be shown, who should see it, when someone should see it, and the length of time that the badge should accompany a product image.

4. Inbound Message Consistency: Don’t Interrupt The Scent Trail

How much time, effort, and money do you spend on generating website traffic only to settle on single-digit conversion rates? Your inbound marketing channels—for instance, paid search, display advertising, affiliates, email, and social media—are huge parts of your business. But once visitors get to your website, you shouldn’t interrupt the 'scent trail' and leave them stranded.

One example of retaining the scent trail is when you synchronise your email message with the landing page. We call this 'Email Echo.

The continuity of your inbound marketing efforts is a great way to increase conversion rates. Suppose the offer in your email is for free shipping on orders over £100. If you use a blue serif font inside a big yellow button to promote the offer in your email, make sure that offer using similar or the same creative appears on the landing page.

Once you start asking your graphic designer for website creative that matches each email offer, you can display the images without ever again creating a special landing page for your email campaigns.

As mentioned earlier, retaining inbound message consistency—the 'scent trail'— is critical to increasing conversion. Maintaining scent and avoiding the 'bait and switch' isn’t just a matter of having the same messages, or product, in your email and on your website. It’s also about using the same colours, themes, and fonts. They all must come through to the landing page and, ideally, to the entire website.

5. Promotion Testing: Find The Right Offer For Each Visitor

You hopefully now understand the importance of maintaining message consistency for your different customer segments. Whether from an inbound channel like paid search or email, or new visitors and returning visitors, there is a different cost to convert each website visitor to a customer.

Because your return on investment is different for each customer segment, you shouldn’t settle for the same special discounts or promotions for all of your website traffic. Change your promotional offer depending on your cost to obtain each customer. Visitors who come from paid search could require a higher order size before receiving free shipping compared to a visitor who arrived from an organic search.

Your affiliate partner gets a specific percentage of every sale, you have a set AdWords budget, and your contract with your email service provider is pretty straightforward. Use this knowledge to your advantage and convert a more profitable website visitor using effective promotion testing.

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6. Shopping Cart Recovery: Revive The Purchase Process

Online shoppers are easily distracted. They are typically convenience-oriented, actively comparison-shopping, inundated with options, and frequently multitasking. Because of these and other factors, shopping cart abandonment remains a major ecommerce concern with about 75% of online cart purchases never getting to an order confirmation page.

There are numerous best practices around reducing shopping cart abandonment, including the display of clear reminders that there are items in the cart as the shopper explores your website, and mouse-over views of cart contents from any page so shoppers don’t need to go to the cart page to remember what they plan to purchase. But you will still experience cart abandonment.

Remind returning visitors about the items left in their carts and get them back into the sales funnel quickly. Try using a lightbox that greets them with a reminder of their cart items, encouraging them to place their order while supplies last. It might pay off to add an additional incentive, such as free shipping, to complete the order.

7. Time-triggers: Remind And Retain Existing Customers

Retaining an existing customer is far more profitable than acquiring a new customer. Remind returning visitors when it is time to reorder a product that frequently needs to be replenished.

When a returning visitor comes to your website—for example, 90 days after the purchase of a product that typically lasts three to four months—and your data supports that the item typically is reordered, re-engage the customer with messages about buying that same product again. By targeting this dynamic customer segment, you not only can impact key performance metrics, but will provide a customer experience often not found online.

Other examples of time-triggered messages include upselling warranty expirations or other pertinent product messages, such as when a previously desired out-ofstock item is back in inventory. You also can send valuable post-purchase triggered messages requesting that frequent shoppers leave a product review or asking them to provide valuable feedback via a website survey.

8. Navigation Optimisation: Avoid The It Queue

Making a change to your website’s primary navigation would seem like a monumental task. Besides convincing others to move forward with even the simplest change, the time it typically takes to get such a change through the development queue means you’ve likely moved on to another challenge. There are definitely risks involved when you alter how visitors interact with your website. And that’s why testing changes to your navigation before deploying them site-wide has quickly become a best practice.

Change the text colour of a 'Sales Items' link to better stand out, or move the 'Clearance' or 'Close-out' links to the top of the navigation for shoppers who have a lower average order value.

Try swapping categories or brands—even hide them altogether—or highlight specific navigational items based on known customer segments, such as gender, location, and most-popular categories or brands. You can even try disabling navigation hovers to see how they impact the clickstream of your visitors.

9. Threshold Messages: Make Your Offers More Powerful

Free shipping, in most cases, proves to be a silver bullet with consumers. But for your business, offering free shipping can be a slippery slope. That’s where free shipping thresholds come in. By requiring customers to meet a defined minimum total to qualify for free shipping, you can attract sales without hurting profit.

Test a threshold slightly above your website’s average order value (AOV). If you have products with disparate price ranges, the overall site AOV might be biased high or low. In this case, consider using multiple shipping thresholds attainable by both customer segments.

To make free shipping threshold offers more powerful, present real-time calculations on how close shoppers are to qualifying for the deal. Also consider adding product recommendations in the target price range (or higher) to these messages.

10. Tablets: Audit And Optimise To Boost Conversions

As more consumers replace their computers with devices such as an iPad or Kindle Fire, they expect a website that takes advantages of the products’ features and functionality.

Look at your analytics for the top activities visitors are doing on mobile and tablet devices. You may find that site search, store locators, account log-in, or certain categories are browsed more on tablets. Use this insight to drive easy modifications to your tablet experience that call out and move customers more quickly to these popular areas.

Besides taking a deep dive into your analytics, do a qualitative audit of how your website performs on the most popular devices to determine whether it’s delivering the features and functionalities those users need. Optimise your website features that don’t function the way you want them to on a tablet—think Flash and the iPad—and serve up static content instead.

Navigation is also important. On a touchscreen, drop-down features will either take the visitor to the main top category or won’t stay open, which means visitors are stuck and can’t navigate properly. Supporting flyout navigation for “touch click” will allow your navigation to work as intended on these devices.

Make it easier for visitors to navigate your website on a tablet with bigger buttons to help optimise tablet browsing. Don’t stop there. Try implementing features like predictive search, because fewer keypad strokes result in a better user experience for tablet browsers.

Clean, streamlined product pages also are critical to improving tablet conversions. One way to take advantage of this is to think about what you already show in your product 'Quick Views' and use a similar approach for tablet browsers. Allow visitors to pick a size and colour, add the product to the basket, and then head to checkout.

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Going Further

Are you eager to put these best practices to the test against your business challenges? And maybe more than a little curious to see just how much potential conversion rate lift you’ve been missing?

We can relate! At Monetate, we live to move the needle, to blow away KPIs and lift every metric that matters. That’s why we made it quick and easy to get Monetate onto your website so you can start implementing these best practices immediately. As marketers the world over are beginning to see the tremendous value relevance has in acquiring and retaining customers while increasing share of wallet, there’s never been a better time to ramp up your testing, targeting and optimisation efforts.

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