At New Republique we’ve run hundreds of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) tests for our clients this year. And despite having many years’ experience, we know the results are never a foregone conclusion, teaching us more and more about user behaviour through experimentation.
As we approach the close of 2018, I sat down with my team of strategists and user experience designers and created a round-up of the top five 2018 tests that made us do a double-take.
5. Less choice = higher conversion
We do a lot of work in the area of choice theory and use it in our experiments. I call this the choice paradigm test.
We ran an experiment for an automotive client to see how we could get more people to select a car and book in for a test drive. It sounds simple, but we realised that the number of makes and models this brand had made it hard for users to understand the vehicles and take action.
I’m a fan of psychologist Barry Schwartz’s work (The Paradox of Choice, 2004). He busted the myth that more choice = more freedom by showing us that the more choice we have as consumer, the harder it is for us to choose so we often don’t end up choosing anything.
So, for this test we pre-selected a few models and listed them under contextual headings: ‘Best for family’, ‘Best for off-road’ etc. The test ran for four weeks. Reducing a customer’s choice achieved a 32% uplift in test drive bookings. It sounds counter-intuitive, but restricting choice actually works better for conversion than increasing choice.
4. Fit for purpose
While doing some user group research for a leading fashion retailer we noticed that users were adding items to their bag but not selecting a size. Our theory was that they were in a rush – why else would someone select a pair of pants and not select a size?
The analytics showed this behaviour was quite common, with about 2,000 customers per month forgetting to indicate a size. What was even more surprising was that users would come back two or three times and make the same mistake.
After running a number of variation tests, we found that a simple redesign of the sizing panel fixed the issue and increased the ‘add to cart’ rate by 4% uplift in completed orders.
3. Search within
We have several retail clients and I can’t stress enough the importance of search within the site. Search is not just a search box, it’s about how to make content more easily found: a search box is one mode of search; category listing is another form.
Over the last year we have found customers’ use of search on the site generally leads to double-digit conversion rates. In a recent test, we augmented how we presented search and made search features more prominent. This small tweak increased site conversion by more than 43%.
2. Designer looks
Here’s an experiment that showed us how customers interpret design: we did an experiment for a consultancy to upgrade its landing pages to better align with its new brand look and feel. We polished the design to make the service look more professional and really pushed the idea that they were consultants who would take time to come and see customers. It failed.
When we took a closer look, we discovered that customers saw the upgraded design as an interpretation on price; the more polished it was, the more expensive it appeared. So, your design can communicate much more than you think!
Keeping this in mind, we redesigned the page and re-ran the test for a 12% uplift.
1. Text is best
For one of our large retail clients, our data analysis identified that visitors who sort or filter are 600% more likely to purchase.
But we had a problem: our user group research showed that most of the users missed the filter call to action (CTA) on the category page. This surprised us as the CTA was LARGE and the filter was sticky and ran the entire size of the mobile page. We also found that visitors were confused between the difference between ‘sort’ and ‘filter’.
How to get more users to sort and filter?
We designed a number of variations: big buttons, coloured buttons, button and text, and, finally, a text-only option that we all thought would lose. Surprise! The text links beat all the other variations and helped increase conversion to completed orders by 11%. So, if you are a retailer or run any type of ecommerce site, spend time fine-tuning your sort and filter.
And the moral of the story for CRO is: don’t assume, experiment and let the numbers speak for themselves.