Conversion testing is the holy grail of ROI on the Internet. Every day, more of our customers start picking up their phones, asking what new test we are planning for their website. Or may that be a result of sales people “incidentally” dropping Conversion Optimization and in doing so, providing the big eye-opener to customers?
For whatever reason you get asked, there’s always a test you can simply roll out: Optimize your shopping cart.
Optimizing your Shopping Cart is a very nice and clean way of starting your conversion optimization process. It’s where the customer has done everything on your website you wanted him to do. It’s where they are screaming to give you their money. Hence, it’s where you can make very quick wins on improving the ROI on your website.
In my opinion, I’ve seen a lot of conversion processes held up by questioning yourself if you have the data in your analytics or adwords account to start such a test. Now don’t get me wrong: if you’re working with a party that is already running tests on multiple areas of their website, this is an issue you have to pay attention to.
Still, if you’re at the start of a conversion process, is there really any better starting point for optimizing your conversion rate? I still fully encourage you to look into analytics, check for pages with high bounce rates or low goal completions. But when it comes to setting up a conversion test, there’s also the mentality of just doing it!
Getting Started With Shopping Cart Optimization
To give you an example, with one of our new customers we were starting up conversion testing. Actually, the conversion rate wasn’t that bad for a starting point.
Conversion rate overall was at 1.95% but when looking at the conversion rate from the first step of the shopping cart, roughly 44% completed their transaction. Still that means that without optimization 56% drops out. Now of course people are going to be dropping out… but less is better, meaning more ROI from each of your traffic generating channels.
Now, we all want to go for the big difference in conversion tests. But why not start with making all the obvious improvements right under your nose?
You easily create a first test and equally important, you create time for your data analysis to start the next (big) test. I will give you some insights in what we did for the example case I mentioned.
In all fairness, our contact mentioned to us they had the feeling a lot of people were dropping out of their shopping cart.
So we checked the complete shopping cart and here’s what we found:
- The regular site navigation + header & footer was a distraction in the complete shopping cart.
- Buttons to proceed further into the shopping cart were not the same in the shopping cart. Both in location and color.
- At the very first step of the shopping cart, the displayed product was linking back to the product page.
- Information for registration was not prefilled into fields for delivery and billing.
- Every page was screaming for social communication and newsletter sign-ups.
We’ve improved all of the mentioned items. Header, footer and regular navigation were minimized. Buttons were all revised and aligned with the steps in the shopping cart. Most clicks that could lead to leaving the shopping cart (including social media buttons) were removed.
Finally, we let more information be prefilled on pages in the shopping cart. As you can see these aren’t the most spectacular changes, but they are changes that make a difference and you can use them for a lot of website shopping carts!
Now perhaps the most interesting is how exactly we did this. For a lot of projects, we like to work with the Visual Website Optimizer and what we did was the following:
The variations of the existing shopping cart pages were all made available by adding a query parameter to the url and on the first step of the shopping cart we started a session so visitors would have the entire shopping cart in either the old or new variation.
We set up a split url test in Visual Website Optimizer and all traffic was split 50-50 on the first step of the shopping cart by settings in Visual Website Optimizer.
A final note: the best thing you can do with these kind of tests is wait and not panic if conversion seems to be lower at the start of your test. In our case, as you can see, the new variation seemed to be converting less. Given time and data this turned around to a 1.2% improvement in conversion for the entire shopping cart. Easy money!
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