In the field of conversion optimization, there’s an understandable focus on landing pages. But why stop there? Every single touch point is an opportunity to improve the user experience and the bottom line. In this article I look at ways to optimize one of these oft-overlooked points: the thank you page.
What is a thank you page?
Broadly put, I define a thank you page a the page (or view) that displays immediately after an interaction is complete. For the sake of brevity I’m going to focus on only three types: post-sale, post-lead-generation (i.e. a white paper download) and post-donation.
Why bother optimizing an “after-the-fact” page?
Some of you will be wondering if I’ve gone off the deep end here. After all, the thank you page isn’t even really part of a sales or lead-generation funnel, right? It only exists so we have a place to put our conversion success tracking code and display a receipt. And even the receipt’s kind of a nuisance, actually—we only show it so customers don’t call us.
I admit these pages wouldn’t be my first conversion priority—most sites have other, more urgent issues. But as part of an ongoing, holistic conversion optimization program, thank you pages are worthy of attention. Here’s why:
Every well-qualified visitor sees the thank you page. The audience for this page is your company’s leads, new customers/donors, and repeat customers/donors. You’ve already gained some of their trust and interest. Yes, there are segments that will be less valuable than others, but generally this is well-qualified, high-value traffic.
The visitor is in a receptive state of mind. After completing a task successfully, there is typically a short time period—a few seconds—during which the visitor is casting about for the next thing to do.
The visitor has just shown they trust you—at least a little. The thank you page is a well-timed opportunity to build and extend that trust.
The visitor has demonstrated an interest in what you offer. The thank you page is an opportunity to extend that interest to other offers or interactions.
Let’s jump in and look at some examples.
Example 1: Fandango—getting all the basics right
A thank you page, of course, has some basic things it should accomplish:
- Say thank you
- Tell visitors what just happened
- Tell them if any further action is required (i.e. print or download something)
- Provide transaction details (i.e. a receipt, if indicated—on the page and/or by email)
- Provide clear paths to typical next steps (i.e. print a trip itinerary)
- Set expectations—tell them exactly what’s coming next (i.e. an email or phone call)
These features reassure and smooth the way; without them, visitors could become too distracted or confused to accommodate any additional optimization.
This Fandango thank you page appears after purchasing movie theater tickets on the site:
How this page fulfills the basics:
- The first sentence tells visitors what just happened, reassuring them that the transaction was successful.
- Text instructions clarify what to do next.
- The most important next step—printing the purchased tickets—is visually prioritized as a large, clearly-labeled button. Very helpful.
- An alternate method of getting the tickets is described.
- Transaction details are present—the movie, theater, date, time, and purchase amount.
Beyond the basics
Sadly, many thank you pages I’ve encountered don’t get even the basics right. But if the fundamentals are in place on your site, it’s time to ask: What else, exactly, can we do on our thank you page? Here are some examples of approaches you could take, grouped by whether they are likely to have a direct or indirect impact on revenue:
Direct revenue impact:
- Ad display
Indirect revenue impact:
- Encourage social sharing
- Offer more engagement opportunities
Examples 2 & 3: Bliss and Amazon—cross-promote
On e-commerce sites, cross-promotions typically happen on item and cart pages. But even after a completed transaction, relevant cross-promotions on the thank you page can be very effective.
We’ve found this approach to work well for B2B and other lead generation companies, too. After a form submission, the thank you page can cross-promote additional white papers, studies and other resources related to the primary offer.
Let’s check out the examples:
Bliss has a minimalist approach to their thank you pages, and provides a receipt only via email. This serves them well. It shifts emphasis to their cross-promotion items, which are placed nice and high on the page. Fight fat with caffeine? Who could resist?
Amazon, knowing all kinds of stuff about what you like, has done a fantastic job of supplying highly relevant and tempting cross-promotions on their thank you page. Especially if you’ve shopped there as much as I have. And they don’t stint on the number of cross-promotions—why should they? There’s no rule that says a thank you page must be a particular length.
Examples 4 & 5: Ticketmaster and Barnes & Noble—ad display
Ads can be a primary source of site revenue, and the thank you page can be an ideal place for them. Again, remember at this point the visitor has completed one task and is looking for something else to do—an ad might be just what they were looking for.
One caution—the ads shouldn’t overwhelm the basics. These next two examples strike a good balance:
Ticketmaster devotes nearly half the page width to an ad display area. In addition, a lower text ad brackets the basic thank you page content. All of this could result in a confusing, frustrating page, but dividing lines and plenty of padding help separate and group content by type. As a result, the page looks clean and orderly. An additional benefit of a good, clear page layout? The ads themselves stand out well, too.
BARNES & NOBLE
Barnes & Noble uses about a third of the page width for an ad column, and also includes a text ad below the basic content. Similar to the Ticketmaster page, the content is visually well-organized and clearly separated by information type.
Examples 6 & 7: Kiva and Ticketmaster—ENCOURAGE SOCIAL SHARING
What else could a company want from a successful conversion? How about even more leads and customers? That’s where the power of social sharing comes in, and the thank you page is a perfect opportunity to give visitors a way to spread the word.
After a donation, Kiva puts social sharing front and center with an unusual thank you page layout. The “receipt” portion of the page is shifted to the right column, while the left 2/3 of the page presents a call to invite friends to Kiva via email. The page doesn’t ignore the basics, either—it says thank you, tells you what just happened, and explains what will happen next.
Bonus points: the page offers several additional ways to engage with Kiva via social networking, a feed, and a path to “More ways to support Kiva”.
I’m bringing back this example to point out how Ticketmaster presents the social sharing links with a call to action: “Tell your friends you’re going.” This one line of text hooks into the visitor’s excitement after completing a fun purchase. It’s exactly the right thing to say, at exactly the right moment.
Examples 8, 9 & 10: Apple—offer more engagement opportunities
One last idea we’ll look at here is using the thank you page to offer additional ways for the visitor to interact with your company.
At the time of this purchase (about a year ago), the Apple Store offered two engagement opportunities in addition to “continue shopping”—a newsletter and a request for feedback, both positioned below the basic content.
After a white paper download, this company uses the thank you page to encourage contact and exploration of their services and project portfolio. Bonus points: the client logos help reinforce credibility.
After a purchase, this site’s thank you page covers the basics, then promotes a partner networking site, Swim.com, encouraging customers to join.
That’s it! You’ve successfully read this article. If you enjoyed it or learned something useful, tell your friends! You’ll also find more great articles along similar lines from my fellow Conversion Science columnists.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.