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Disappointment Sucks

I was recently privileged to speak at the Velocity Conference in Santa Clara this year. My presentation was on the topic of Conversion Rate Optimization applied to your entire organization.

One of the points was focusing on process, not results. (I’ll discuss that in a future post). An example I used was recent post by Which Test Won that shared how some site got a 972% increase in engagement by making the form longer. Reasonable hypothesis IMO.

My point was simple: Unrealistic expectation creates disappointment. “Expectation is the root of all heartache”, William Shakespeare.

Here’s that section of the talk in a nutshell:



I love Which Test Won. It’s a great place to get ideas and knowledge of what other have tried and succeeded and failed at. I highly recommend it! But… When someone posts that they got a 972% increase in engagement by increasing the length of a form, that is only going to produce disappointment. Imagine your boss reading those results and then later in the afternoon you report to her that you just completed a round of tests and got a very respectable 7.8% increase in conversions over a 30 day period with over 25,000 conversions tested. Her reaction is not going to be great. Your success will feel like a failure. You’re going to feel like you got crapped on, when the company should throw a raging house party for YOU, at YOUR NEW HOUSE they just bought you! “Surprise!” That won’t happen with unrealistic expectations. (OK, it won’t happen at all. But you get the idea.)

Velocity Conference Jon Correll Presentation

It’s a simple point. If you’re tasked to make changes and run tests, and then show those results to people with unrealistic expectations, you’re not going to be successful, as failure is part of the process. You need to embrace failure and love learning.
I’m not even going to go on a rant about showing these conversion rate “increases”, that are really more a point to the significance, not the true relative increase. If I did rant about that, then I would have to start the post with why I’m a hypocrite in discussing it, as I have done the same.

Back to the “I Hate Which Test Won?” story…

(the day after my presentation) (more…)

eCommerce Industry Stats For Mobile And Mobile Marketing

Tech analysts predicted that mobile Internet usage would overtake desktop usage by 2014. We’re well past that tipping point now as shown in a July 2015 study.

This study’s year to-date data shows a consolidation with mobile digital media time in the United States significantly higher at 51% compared to desktop usage at 42%.

What does this mean for your eCommerce business? In the simplest turns, if you’re not reaching your audience effectively on their smartphones and providing a good user experience, you’ll miss out on business.

A Shopify study shows us that mobile traffic to eCommerce sites is at more than 50%, while desktop traffic to eCommerce sites sits just below mobile traffic. Shopify says mobile traffic is now the “default” way people shop eCommerce stores.

Let’s explore eCommerce industry stats for mobile and mobile marketing. We’ll review studies and make a case for the importance of a mobile-friendly eCommerce site.

Why the Rise in Mobile Traffic to eCommerce Sites?

Social media is driving eCommerce site visits. The same Shopify study notes that when Facebook users are using their computers, 5% of them click through to eCommerce sites, while the number jumps to 7% when Facebook users are on their phones.

On the search side, Google searches represented 18% of eCommerce traffic from computers, but just 12% from mobile phones. Their study deduced that search is used when customers are looking for something specific, while Facebook users on smartphones are clicking for the spontaneous purchase.

According to Susan Wu of Forrester Research, Inc, “Mobile is far outpacing the growth of e-commerce as a whole. It’s growing faster than e-commerce in the ‘90s when online shopping was just taking off.”

The Importance of Social Media

Discovery-based shopping is the trend of shopping from mobile phones and tablets. Social media drives a large amount of traffic to eCommerce sites, and social media advertising is worth exploring.

According to a study by Custora, mobile traffic to e-commerce sites has increased from 3% to nearly 37% in the last four years. Though the mobile conversion rate is only at 1.4%, mobile has become an essential part of the overall shopping experience, and the gap between traffic and conversion continues to shrink.

Always on Shopping

This is a new trend in shopping coined by Shopify. It refers to the degree that consumers are always on.

It’s due almost entirely to social media and mobile shopping. In previous years, desktop traffic to eCommerce sites was highest between Monday and Friday. Mobile shopping tends to increase on the weekends. In the end, you have “always-on” shopping.

When you factor in computer, mobile and tablet shopping, consumers are “always” shopping.  It’s no longer certain days or even certain hours that consumers are shopping. They are making purchases 24 hours a day, seven days a week, largely through their mobile devices.

Nite Owls are Buying

An interesting report studied shopping times, specifically late into the night and early morning hours.

The study found that due to the rise in mobile shopping, more consumers are making purchases in the wee hours of the night. The report notes increases in sales between the hours of midnight and 6 am – up more than 30% from the previous year.

Mobile Shortcomings

Adexchanger.com says mobile users click on ads more than twice as much as desktop users, and most online retailers see nearly 50% of their traffic coming from mobile, So, why is the conversion rate higher for desktop?

While consumers are doing a lot of their shopping and discovery on their smartphones, the majority of purchases still happen using computers. Why? It’s simple. Entering credit card details and personal information on a small screen is difficult. Consumers also worry about privacy more on their smartphones than their desktops.

Users also switch between devices, but they almost always return to the computer to complete the purchase.

Websites Vs. Apps

Now that we’ve discussed eCommerce websites on the smartphone, let’s look at the stats between eCommerce mobile websites and apps.

With mobile commerce on the rise, a debate has started regarding whether retailers should concentrate on optimizing their website for mobile or create a downloadable app.

While responsive design is essential to any etailer, a downloadable app can enhance your business based on your target audience and product offerings. How do you decide?

The most significant advantage that mobile apps offer is the ability to communicate and personally engage with the customer. Plus, research suggests consumers do enjoy using mobile apps.

Yet, the mobile website is integral to the consumer’s shopping process. Kissmetrics says two out of three customers prefer accessing a mobile website than a mobile app. Users don’t want the barrier of an app. They also don’t want to have to stop shopping to download an app.

What consumers really want is a good deal. They will usually only download your app if they perceive there is a value in it.

While an app is good for the eCommerce retailer, they aren’t always profitable for the consumer. Your best bet is to provide a more app-like atmosphere, great navigation and a coupon on your mobile site. It’s got to be easy for the consumer.

The Take-Away

Perhaps the most glaring conclusion is that eCommerce companies must optimize their sites for mobile. It’s no longer an “if I’ll get to it,” but an absolute necessity.

It’s vital to provide customers a superb shopping experience whether it’s on desktop, tablet or mobile.  Due to the “always-on” phenomena, mobile shopping is increasingly important.

If your eCommerce site does not optimize for mobile, you’ll cater to a shrinking group of people who are only shopping on their computers. Of noted importance is mobile testing. With Androids and iPhone usage skyrocketing, testing on as many devices as possible is critical.

Cater to all your customers, 24/7 and on as many devices as possible, and you’ll see your conversion rates increase!

Now that we’ve looked at eCommerce industry stats for mobile and mobile marketing, would you like some assistance in fine-tuning your mobile site and increasing conversions? We’re here to help. What’s more, we guarantee your results. Contact us today. We’d love to talk with you about optimizing your mobile eCommerce site for better outcomes.

Image: Jason Howie

10 Copywriting Tips And Techniques For eCommerce Homepages

We talked about copywriting tips for your eCommerce product pages in a previous article, so this time, we’re going to talk about writing for your homepage.

And, we’re going to put a little spin on it. Not only are we going to discuss 10 copywriting tips and techniques for eCommerce homepages, but we’re going to discuss how to do it tactfully and without sounding like a marketing tactic you learned in school.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s those times when – even though you are an honest, genuine person – your copy starts sounding like a sleazy, cold call.

We think it’s important for your homepage copy to reflect your company and its ideals. For example, if you’re selling women’s perfume, you want to be truthful and descriptive with your copy. You want to evoke a feeling, a smell, and a reason to purchase.

You want to write honest copy that sells, right? Here are ten copywriting tips and techniques for your eCommerce homepage that will attract customers and keep them moving through your site.

#1: Write Winning Headlines

Six to 12 words, that’s all that stands between you and a higher click-thru rate. David Ogilvy says, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”

Here’s how you can write a terrific homepage headline without sounding like a marketer:

  • Be specific: If you’re claiming a statistic, use a number. If you’re posting a review, use a person’s name.
  • Show the value: Tell the customer exactly what they’re getting.
  • Make it a summary: Your headline should succinctly summarize the content below. Expand on your headline in the copy.
  • Be compelling. Stay away from clever. For example, the headline, “Red Shirts,” is boring. The headline,
    “Shirts Dyed by Hand in Kenya” is compelling.
  • Use a subheading. This will help break up your homepage into easily digestible pieces.

#2: Provide a Concise Introduction

Somewhere shortly after or next to your headline and main image or slider should be an introduction.

We’re not talking book-length here. This introduction can be one or two sentences at most. No bragging or company mission statements allowed.

Write to your audience. Use the word “you.” Steer clear of “me, I and us”. You are talking to the consumer, and this experience is about him/her.

#3: Write for Search

When you write for search, you are taking care to craft copy that defines what your customers are looking for on your website.

Do your keyword research and plan to incorporate these words into your homepage copy. Don’t make the text awkward or fill it with odd keyword usages.

#4: Don’t Be Too Fluffy

You’re not working on a piece of fiction. Valuable homepage copy gets right to the point. It should be compelling and creative. Don’t add fluffy words just to add them.

Every word counts on your homepage. People don’t have time to read three paragraphs. Your eCommerce visitor has a short attention span. Grab them quickly, give them what they want and direct them how to get it.

#5: Be Conversational

Computers have created a less-than-formal atmosphere. Internet users want their website interactions to be personal. Use a conversational tone and don’t get too technical.

Stay away from buzz words. While you may know what they mean, chances are your customer doesn’t.

Years ago newspaper reporters were told to write for people with a sixth grade reading ability. This is a good rule of thumb for your copywriting, too.

#6: Write Clear Navigational Copy

If your navigation is difficult, your site visitors will leave. According to Hubspot, bad navigation is one of the top reasons people will leave your site.

Don’t make your customers go on a scavenger hunt to find what they need. Your navigation bar copy should be incredibly clear.

On your homepage, you can feature various blocks of images and text to show off the parts of your site you think are most valuable to the customer. These can also include directions and compelling calls to action.

#7: Write for the Scanner

We already talked about headlines and subheads. These are incredibly important to the website scanner. Every point you want to make, and every section block you want to showcase should be written with short explanations.

Look at your home page as a scanner would. This person likes white space and short, compelling text.

#8: Use Social Proof

Being social has increased in importance for us in the last few years since the onset of social media. Your homepage is a great place to write persuasively through social proof.

Your eCommerce visitors want to know that other people like and trust your company. Let them know with testimonials, reviews and social media feeds.

When including testimonials, add those that are real. Don’t include any that sound like a marketer wrote them.

If you want people to sign up for your email, craft a statement that says, “Join our 5,000 email subscribers.” Let them know people value you.

This establishes your credibility and keeps you sounding genuine. Don’t forget to include the actual proof.

#9: Focus on the Offer

Are you having a sale? Do you offer free shipping? Tell them this in one of your homepage content boxes. Again, keep it short and simple, but let the visitor know immediately what your offers are.

#10: Keep Away from Superlatives

If you want to sound like a salesman, go ahead and use words like best and better. But, if you want to craft a homepage that really works, stay away from superlatives.

Words like best, very and easiest sound insincere. Only use superlatives in your copy if you have actual proof that you are the best.

The Takeaway

The homepage of your eCommerce site is your virtual lobby. Many of your homepage visitors are new guests. They have no idea where to find anything, and they might not have preconceived notions about your site.

Their subconscious mind makes a split-second decision to stay or go. For example, if they’re looking for free shipping and don’t see it, they might bounce off. If they don’t understand your navigation, you again get the bounce. If you’ve pounced on them with the hard sell, you can bet they’ll leave.

They will decide to stay or to go based on how comfortable they feel with your eCommerce site and the feeling it gives them. You can help give them that feel-good feeling with the way you craft your text for your eCommerce homepage.

What are you waiting for? Let’s get to work convincing your visitors to stay!

Would you like some assistance implementing these ideas? We’re here to help you increase your conversion rate and decrease your amount of website bounces. What’s more, we guarantee your results. Contact us today to increase your online revenue through creative copywriting tips and techniques.

Image: John Curtis

shopping cart abandonment

For many years, shopping cart abandonment has been a growing problem for eCommerce retailers.

According to the Baymard Institute, the average documented online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.53%.

Translated into simpler terms, that means nearly 70 out of 100 people who fill their shopping carts on your website never come back to finish their purchase. When put this way, that percentage is staggering.

While shopping cart abandonment is the bane of eCommerce retailers, it can also provide an opportunity.

With billions of dollars’ worth of merchandise abandoned in online shopping carts, about 60% of that may be recoverable. For shrewd eCommerce sites with some ingenuity, you can turn abandoned carts around to your advantage.

In this article, we’re going to discuss essential eCommerce industry stats for abandonment and what you can do to turn the negative into a positive.

Would your revenue increase if you retained some of those abandoned carts?


How eCommerce Companies Can Do Surveys And Questionnaires Onsite

How do you know if your website is meeting your customer’s needs? Ever wondered if they’d like to see certain kinds of products featured on your eCommerce site? How about your customer service – do people like it?

These questions and many more can be answered right on your website by your website visitors and customers.

Offer surveys and questionnaires to get useful information about your eCommerce site and its products.

Surveys and questionnaires can increase your customers’ loyalty because they feel like they are part of the process. By asking their opinion, they have buy-in because they’re either helping you solve a problem or tooting your horn.

The best way to understand what your website visitors are feeling is to survey them.

According to Survey Monkey, every month more than 30 million people complete their surveys. With at least that many people online completing surveys, it’s time you took advantage of this great fact-finder.


Copywriting Tips for ECommerceWhat should I say? How much should I say? How much is too much? Or, for that matter, too little? Who’s my audience? Will they understand what I’ve written? What format works best?

But, wait, I’m not a creative writer! Help!

If you’ve ever muttered these questions to yourself while pouring over your eCommerce product descriptions, than this article is for you. If you’re struggling to write copy that converts, this post is also for you.

Let’s discuss 10 copywriting tips and techniques for eCommerce product pages.

Your job is to create a vivid picture in the shopper’s mind. Your picture must be tantalizing and clear, so much so that the shopper imagines holding the product and using it.

Take a step into the multi-faceted world of creating writing. You are equal parts prose writer (vivid descriptions) and journalist (just the facts, please). A combination of the two creates winning product pages that convert.

Tip #1: Go Back to the Five Ws

You remember these, right? Many of us were taught way back in grade school to use the five Ws when writing or describing something. It’s also a trick of the astute eCommerce writer. Let’s use these five Ws to craft persuasive product descriptions.

  1. WHO is the product for? Is your target audience male or female, young, middle age or retirees? Are they a defined group of people such as fitness fanatics or new moms?
  2. WHAT are the pertinent details? This is where material, size, feature and function comes in. The HOW can also land here. This is where you’d list how a product works (this doesn’t apply to all product descriptions).
  3. WHERE will your customer use the product? Is it decorative or utilitarian? For indoor or outdoor use?
  4. WHEN would your customer use the product? Is it seasonal? Does it have a long shelf life or an expiration date? What’s the occasion?
  5. WHY should your customer purchase the product? Is it better than the competition? Is it useful? Will it improve quality of life?


What Is Working On Mobile Today For eCommerce Websites?

Mobile phone traffic to eCommerce websites has increased exponentially in the last few years. According to a Shopify study, when they looked at more than 100,000 eCommerce stores, they saw 50.3% of traffic coming from mobile (40.3% phones/10% tablets) and just 49.7% from computers.

This study exemplifies the importance of mobile. It demands we talk about what is working on mobile today for eCommerce websites.

Let’s talk about design and development strategy as well as some unique marketing strategies for mobile users.

Responsive Web Design

We’ve talked about mobile conversion rates before and how important it is that your eCommerce website be responsive and mobile-friendly. (see my note at bottom of post about mobile testing). A responsive website changes size and adjusts to the users screen size. This is so important to the success of your eCommerce experience.


popup-strategiesPopups are annoying, right? Sometimes. Okay, usually they are annoying.

Popups don’t work, right? Wrong.

Popups work. They usually work very well. (See my 2012 post on testing opt-in email popups.)

Why are marketers across the Internet suddenly so interested in popups when before everyone thought users hated popups? Technology, coupled with etailers using popups in more strategic ways, have led to more and more ecommerce conversions and sales.

Take for instance, Nikky from Etsy shop, Nikky in Stitches. She installed a popup to capture email addresses, and she saw a subscription rate of 5.5%. She found that an entry popup with a timed delay of 2 seconds led to an incredible 1,375% increase in email subscriptions.


eCommerce Industry Stats Bounce Rates

Bounce Rates can be intimidating and downright frightening for many website owners. But, in this blog post, we’re going to demystify the lovely Bounce Rate.

We’re going to take a long hard look at eCommerce industry stats on bounce rates. And, we’re going to give you some tips on how to deal with them.

First, let’s define Bounce Rate using Google’s definition:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

There are a number of factors that contribute to a high bounce rate. For example, users might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues. Alternatively, users might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and they had no need or interest in going to other pages.

In less vague terms, Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors that go to only one page before leaving your site.


Conversion Rates Stats

What is the eCommerce conversion rate for your site?

Maybe you know the answer. Maybe you think your ecommerce site’s conversion rate is good enough. Or, just maybe, the term conversion rate makes you want to duck and run because you don’t really know what it means or how to make it better.

Before we get into ecommerce industry stats for conversion rates, let’s define the term:

People who convert on your website have taken an action. They’ve purchased something (your #1 goal!), signed up for your email newsletter, created an account, downloaded something or contacted you through your website’s contact form. You find your conversion rate by dividing the total number of conversions by the number of site visitors.