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…)

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

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.


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.


Are visitors fleeing your website in droves with zero engagement or interaction? Here are eight things that are making your bounce rates sky-rocket. Fix them, or you’re sunk.

Content Not Satisfying Searcher Intent

unsatisfying content

Image via Flickr from Mdanys

People visit your website to find information search results have led them to believe your pages contain. Serving them content riddled with sales language, lacking in-depth information, or is boring to read will cause searchers to leave your site. Sentences stuffed with search engine optimization keywords won’t address user concerns either — and may trigger a Google algorithm penalty. (more…)

Just like everything in life, marketing has some basic rules that you’re supposed to follow. However, in some cases, your marketing benefits from breaking these rules. While you don’t want to break all of the rules all of the time, remember that these are not set in stone.

1. Keep Your Focus Unwaveringly


Image via Flickr by Mark Hunter

Rule: It’s said in the marketing world that you should keep your focus. What should you be focusing on, exactly? The rule is that you should focus on your marketing strategy and conversions. Without conversions, you’re not going to make any money. So, you need to do anything and everything necessary to increase the people coming to your landing page, which will in turn help you sell more.

How to Break It: Let’s be honest – making money is most likely the reason you have a landing page in the first place. You want people buying your product or service. However, the best way to do this is not to constantly focus on getting people in the door. If you do this, you’re going to end up getting the wrong people. Instead, focus on your customers. Figure out your target market and use it. In addition to this, you’ll want to split your focus between a few things. Customers, marketing strategy, and your landing page layout all need to be on your mind.


A call to action is the section on your website where you tell a visitor exactly what you want them to do. When you’re considering using a call to action, or CTA, it’s important that you understand the differences between different CTAs as well as proper placement.

Use a Strong Call to Action

Image via Flickr by Sean MacEntee

You’re trying to get someone to do something specific on your site. Do you want them to buy a product, or just fill out an email capture form? Either way, you need to tell them. Letting people know with both words and visual clues allows them to fully process the call to action. “Buy Now!” is a strong call to action that tells the customer exactly what you want them to do. (more…)

CAPTCHAs are a pain in the butt to figure out sometimes. Everyone has problems with them at one point or another. But, as a business owner, you need to decide if they’re worth the customer frustration. The point of a CAPTCHA is to keep out the spam. It’s a noble idea, but does it come at a loss?


Image via Flickr by afromusing

CAPTCHA is a word, phrase, or string of letters that website users must complete when filling out online forms or creating accounts. They’re meant to ensure that only real people can fill out web forms or create accounts. Websites that offer polling, blogs with comments, and even online stores all receive spam accounts. These accounts are typically owned by robots or bots.

Bot accounts aren’t created by real people, and they’re typically used for a malicious intent. For example, a bot account created to comment on a blog post is likely going to link back to a third-party site owned by the bot creator or a link containing a virus. CAPTCHAs cut down on bot-created accounts. (more…)