Category Archives: Conversion

Why I think Amazon can increase their conversion

The other day I tried to make my first Amazon purchase but failed. The process of ordering was nothing but smooth and straight. I even struggled to figure out the price of the product I wanted which makes me wonder, am I a total weirdo? If I that have extensive Internet experience and have setup my own webshop, worked with usability and seen the most on the web have problem ordering then how many others are not in the same position with less experience. Amazon is one of the highest converting shopping sites out there making tons of cash but I wonder if this is not due to their strong brand recognition and other services.

The other day I heard they are selling 73 items per second and they have a conversion rate somewhere between 5-7% which is extremely high for an e-retailer which usually is around the 2% mark. Amazon though is really good at expanding their business model into areas that they will make money. For example today they announced that they would start selling movies on demand competing directly with Netflix.

To be honest I have always wondered why their site looks like 1999 in a time where we have extensive tools for web analytics, usability and AB testing. I know they have a good web analytics team and they do a lot of testing but from my point of view their pages are so cluttered that as a user I have big problems understanding what I should do next, which in all known cases is a conversion killer.

What I think is wrong and what they should do to change it

On the product page first of all I had a hard time finding the price. It is cluttered around text which is trying to convince you by reinforcing the good things. The add to basket button is far away from the price. I would like to see the price much clearer and closer to add to the basket button.

The up selling part on the page is a very clever element. I guess they get a bit more money from this.

Clicking the next button I get a page which trys uppselling again, athough the page is very cluttered and the next step is not that clear.

The payment page is a bit clearer but still not as clear s it could be.

All in all I think there could be some improvments but the question is why have they not done it? Or have they and not managed to improve conversion. All my experience tells me though that a better usability will increase conversion.

 

Why have they not tried a better usability/design?

Here are my my five cents on the above question:

  • Why change a model that works. The problem with this is that you don’t know your conversion roof, how high can it be?
  • Changing one page design might require you to change all other pages.
  • This might sound silly but the cluttered pages might make up selling easier.
  • Internal politics.

What they are world class in

So, all in all I think Amazon most likely knows their stuff very well but the issues I raised above are more or less best practice according to my opinion. Having that said let me give you my opinion on what they are world class at:

  • Up selling. In several steps they try to up sell items.
  • Understanding what users are looking at and getting more of that i.e. user reviews.
  • Behavioral targeting – displaying products based on your history.
  • Getting promotions to the right people.

How we increased the conversion by 40% on a casino landing page

I want to share with you one of our successful test we conducted in 2010 on the online casino market. I want to do this because I want to give something to the online gambling community, a community that as I have experienced it prefers to live in the dark and not share that much between each other. I also think that we in the casino market have to start listening to the customers much more and try to build sites that talk to the user needs.

If you are familiar with our company you will know that we have worked extensively with improving the conversion on several gambling sites both within casino and poker. To our disposal we have used almost all research methods that are available such as on site surveys, ab tests, external surveys and focus groups and of course web analytics. This research has culminated to the the creation of three profiles/personas which has been our guiding star to increase the conversion on a casino landing page.

How we started

We know that all traffic goes through one specific page, the landing page as we call it, which made it a logical for us to start at that point. After clearing the technical hurdles to do ab-testing we started by designing the first landing page without having the personas defined yet. Of course this was a failure. The conversion did not increase at all, on the contrary, it decreased. So we had to go back to the drawing table. Test number two did not show either a positive lift so we went back and asked ourselves why? By this time we had defined our three personas.

  1. The first persona  was the bonus junkies, people who are totally focused on the bonus and do not care much about anything else.
  2. The second persona was the game focused player. The one that liked a specific game and wanted to play just that.
  3. The third persona was the more general type that is just looking for a casino to play at.

We took these three personas and applied them to the design.

This is the original design…

…and this was the winning design where you have clickable tabs for each game type…

The picture below you can see how we thought when we applied the various personas to the design. Notice how the general feeling of the design is to convey a professionalism and seriosity something that is important for all profiles but a bit more important for the third persona type.

The result +40%

From the very start the new design outperformed the original by 40% in terms of depositing players. We could see that the tab functions was very popular.

By now you will probably ask yourself, will this work for all online casinos? Well to be honest I think so. My two strongest reasons are that:

  1. We see more or less the same user behavior on all casino sites we have worked with.
  2. Multiple independent surveys point in the same direction when it comes to the casino user profiles.

Various people within the web analytics business have preached about the importance of segmentation so I will not go into that discussion, but this test shows exactly how important segmentation is. Finding your segments is like unlocking the potential of your website. For you who have seen the movie Matrix it is like the character who plays the keyholder.

When does it not work?

I think the design itself will work independent where your traffic comes from. Of course the composition of the traffic and the user intention will determine how successful this design will be. Looking around at today´s landing pages I can say that I am not impressed at all. There are a few low hanging fruits there and the biggest of them probably the above segments.

My view of the Conversion Conference & Emetrics in San Jose, USA, 2010

I had the luck to attend the first conversion conference held in San Jose, USA, during the time 3-6 of May, 2010. The conference was in conjunction with Emetrics that has been around for a while so there were plenty of tracks to attend. I think in total there were somewhere over 100 tracks!

The theme of the conversion conference was to explore various aspects of website conversion such as videos, ab testing, copy writing, usability etc. The Emetrics part is more about web analytics and less on the conversion part but of course they overlapped a bit.

I and my colleagues Rickard and Jenny traveled all the way from small Stockholm to San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley to see and hear the most prominent people within the web analytics field (a 16 hour trip…very tiresome). Unfortunately you have to travel that far if you want to listen to these people at the same conference. You rarely get this chance in Europe.

The attendance on the conference came all over the world. There were people from Germany, Israel, South Africa, Poland and another Swede.

The feeling I got was that most people there were some sort of consultants. I think less than 50% of the attendants were from end user companies. I was also surprised to meet so few big company representatives. Maybe they don’t do web analytics or they already know everything.

So, if I do a short recap of the conference here are my high and low points.

The high points

  • Many tracks. A lot to listen to. As usual when you have such great variety the quality varies a lot but it was good to be able to choose what you want to listen to.
  • The venue. It was held in The Fairmont Hotel, a four star hotel with large spaces and large rooms for such a conference. Unfortunately some of the rooms were small and got filled quickly. Also the air condition killed me some times.
  • It was well organized. Everything run smoothly from the various sessions to the lunch breaks run smoothly.
  • Famous speakers, top of the line. Some of the most famous people within the field was there as speakers. For example the much famous Mr. Avinash was there.
  • Probably around 500 people or more attending both conferences. It was nice to see such large turnout, which indicates that people are getting more and more conscious of what web analytics can do for them.
  • Networking. Like all conferences you get a chance to network, and I got to listen to various peoples “problems” which was interesting. I recognized many of the problems – like handling a vast amount of keywords or doing AB testing.
  • My top 3 sessions.
    • The presentation on how videos increase conversion if you do it right. From my own experience I know that videos can increase conversion but the two guys presenting was humorous and very down to earth. They also showed some interesting examples that can be used in various cases.
    • The session about sharing knowledge within the organization was interesting to listen to.
    • The Expedia presentation. Expedia must most likely have to most advanced web analytics and conversion program out there. They use software and manpower to maximize their efforts in various areas. It took them three hard years to get where they are but I bet they got their investment back with interest.

The low points

  • Over half of the tracks were too basic from my point of view. Of course various people experience this type of conference differently but I think many of the tracks were to shallow for my taste.
  • Too many consultants presenting and they tend to have a tone of voice that tells you that their findings is the rule. Especially the more famous ones were more or less preaching which I think if you are a bit experienced within the field you see through it.
  • Too few company presentations. I like company case presentations. I think they give you a good idea on how you can solve your own problems while watching the likes of others. Unfortunately there were too few company case presentations. I would like to see much more but I guess they are hard to find.
  • Many of the presented cases by the consultants did not hold to scrutiny. On questions from the audience many of the cases had not been implemented and were rather a suggestion  from the consultant to their client, so the outcome had not been documented.
  • I am not sure if this is a bad thing but the knowledge on conversion among the audience seem to be very low judging by the questions and the twitter chat.

Conclusions

I think this was the best conference I have attended so far. Would I go again? Yes, no doubt about it. That it was held in Silicon Valley was very interesting, I got the wibe that if you work with IT business development this is where you should be.

I keep asking myself how far along are we at Web Guide Partner on conversion and web analytics issues? Well, I truly think that we are among the most advanced companies out there but not on everything. We have explored most areas and have a broad spectrum of knowledge but we lack the marketing part such as ppc and offline advertising. Also our experience with social media is halting. The vast amount of websites we work with also limits us to the amount of deep diving we can do.

All in all though I am glad I attended the conference, it makes me a smarter web analytics and conversion guy, hopefully we can use some of the knowledge on our own websites.

My A/B testing guide

A year ago when I changed jobs I was faced with the joyful task of being part of the startup of our A/B testing program. Since we have several sites under our wings the methodology was very important because we wanted to draw conclusions from our tests to be applied to new websites and in some sense create a kind of “theory” on website design and content.

With 150 A/B tests and counting our methodology has brought us a step closer to understanding what affects a webpage conversion rate. This knowledge has made our life a bit easier since we can apply the findings on new projects with the comfort of knowing what conversion rate we can expect. Without going any deeper into the core of the methodology I thought I would give you my approach on A/B testing.

The below points are a guide of what you should think of when doing A/B split testing and are based on my own experience. Please feel free to comment on them if you don’t agree.

1. Be prepared that your testing will bring up new question that will need testing. So you are basically in a testing process rather than just one test.

2. Think of a concept you want to test. Is this concept aligned with what users want or is it based on your own cravings? Very good inputs for testing are user surveys and focus groups.

3. Look how much traffic you have on the page(s) that you will be testing on. Large amount of traffic allows you to do smaller changes but still see an effect.

4. If you have large amount of traffic consider doing A/B/C/n testing. This will allow you to cut down your testing time considerably.

5. Analyze where the traffic to the testing page(s) comes from (I mean URLs). If a larger part of the traffic is from Google look at the keywords which show user intentions. Try also to understand how this page fits in the user path. Ask the following question: Is this page critical for users to convert?

6. Make a wireframe of the page you want to test. Make your various versions stand out from the original page. If they are too similar you will probably not reach statistical confidence, hence not be able to draw conclusions.

7. This is a no brainer but I need to say it, design the page so it fits the rest of the site.

8. Communicate clearly to your coding guy (fronted) what the success metric is. Usually it is conversion or/and money but it could also be reaching a certain page or downloading something. News site for example have more page views per user as a success metric.

9. It is very common in the beginning of the A/B testing experience that you don’t track everything on your testing page, which is a mistake. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry, so you better put more tracking elements on a testing page than you thought of. This will avoid you to redo the test later.

10.  If you are working with segments, which you should, consider to divide your traffic into those segments. The segments could for example be based on entry keywords or previous page behavior.

11.  Front end code your testing page(s) and setup your testing tool. Direct 50% of the traffic to one version. If you have very large amount of traffic you can do the test on only a fraction of your traffic. For example I heard that Google only tests on 10 of their traffic. As testing tools you can use Google Optimizer or any other tool that fits the requirements but remember to do QA so everything runs smoothly when you launch your test.

12.  Launch the test. Keep an eye on it the first couple of hours so everything seems all right.

13.  Let the test run until you reach at least 90% confidence. Usually the confidence level is shown in the tool.

14.  When you reach confidence stop the test and do the analysis. Example of questions you should ask is; What do the numbers show? Did we reach our targets? Did we answer our hypothesis? Is this the best we can do or can we improve the numbers even more? What other questions type of questions did the test arise?

15.  Document your results and conclusion in an easy way so you can go back whenever you need to. Documenting is important if you do many A/B tests since you probably want to use your knowledge further down the road.

16.  At this point I must put in a warning since many people think that one test will be enough to get the lift you are looking for. Most of the times your results will be rather surprising which will more or less force you to do more tests. This is a good thing since the more you learn about your users the better conversion rate you will have.

17.  As a final point, do not forgett to make the A/B testing process fun. If you can involve your designer and coder in the beginning of the process it will make your testing people and your whole organization much smarter in the long run.