11 Things That Work More Often Than Not in A/B Tests
While there are no universal rules when it comes to conversion process, there are some things that tend to work more often than not. This article will give you some of these tactics to test for yourself.
We’ve seen it time and time again…what works for website A doesn’t necessarily work for website B. In addition the concept of tactic is one thing, its impact is all about specific implementation. So there’s nothing in this post that’s guaranteed to work.
There are a few tactics that we’ve seen work over and over again. These are principles that, while they don’t work 100% of the time, work more often than not.
When asking some notable CRO experts about any tactics that work more often than not and a lot of the answers were similar. We’ll outline them below.
If you want to be efficient and you’re looking for continuous improvements, these tactics are worth a look. At the very least, question your assumptions and put them to a test.
- Static Image w/ Single Value Proposition Is Better Than Auto-rotating Slider
At some point you will find yourself asking the question, “Should I use an auto-rotating slider?”
The answer is no, you shouldn’t.
I wouldn’t recommend using auto-rotating sliders (aka carousels). Though there are undoubtedly examples of them working better than static images (as rare as they are), for the vast majority of sites, they are a usability nightmare.
What’s wrong with using carousels?
There are multiple reasons for this. Here are three of them:
1.) The human eye reacts to movement (thus missing the important stuff).
2.) Too many messages equals no message (clutter effect).
3.) They look like banners, which most people ignore because they dislike them (banner blindness).
Ultimately, users crave control, and auto-rotating carousels offer the opposite of that.
However, if you’re set on the carousel, for whatever reason, there are ways to improve upon it.
Improving the carousel
Tips for proper carousel design:
Include five or fewer frames within the carousel.
Use crisp-looking text and images that coincide with the organization’s charter.
Indicate how many frames are present, and where the user is within the “progression.” This helps people feel in control.
Use icons and links that are understandable and recognizable.
Ensure that navigation controls appear inside the carousel, not below it or separated by a fold.
If offering a navigation button for each frame (rather than arrows to scroll through), ensure that each button looks different and represents the frame.
Make links and buttons large enough to decipher and click.
- Hamburger+”Menu” Beats Just Hamburger
The hamburger icon is a terrible icon.
Like any good myth, it’s passed down generation to generation until its origin is entirely unclear. The problem with the hamburger icon is that we just assume it works. However, the vast majority of our tests say something else:
In most cases, using hamburger + a “menu” label beats just a hamburger icon.
As an example, here’s a test we did. We tested these three icons, plus the addition of a hamburger icon+menu label in a bright pink color:
Outcome: All 4 treatments brought in more revenue than the control.
Note: Not everyone hates the hamburger icon (goes back to the point of no universal rules), but if you were a betting person, you would have good odds betting against the hamburger icon. Why?
It’s not intuitive.
It’s not noticeable.
It’s in our tests, hamburger + menu + a bold color usually perform best. It removes the uncertainty and makes the icon noticeable and intuitive. Problem solved.
- Proper Value Proposition Beats No Value Proposition
You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t have a value proposition. It’s not just that they lack a good, proper value prop – they lack one altogether.
So it’s pretty easy for us to say that most tests confirm: value prop is better than no value prop.
What is a value proposition? Simply put, it’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you. It’s the #1 reason someone will continue to read or hit the back button.
What does an efficient value proposition consist of?
It consists of a few things:
1.) Headline- This is the attention grabber. What’s your offer? Short, sweet, concise, and relevant.
2.) Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph- This gets more into the nitty gritty of what you’re offering, for whom, and why it’s beneficial.
3.) 3 bullet points- Here you can list the key benefits or features.
4.) Visual- Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or an image reinforcing your main message.
What should your value proposition convey? Relevancy, quantifiable value, and unique differentiation.
- “Sticky” Content
What is sticky content? Sticky content refers to content published on a website, which has the purpose of getting a user to return to that particular website or hold their attention and get them to spend longer periods of time at that site. Webmasters use this method to build up a community of returning visitors to a website.
On small-screen mobile websites, having a sticky header or footer containing a call to action has consistently increased conversion rates. This call to action may be “Subscribe”, “Search” or “Click to call”.
This has been so effective that we are now testing these on desktop “big-screen” websites. So far we’ve seen one successful test of this.
There appears to be some blindness with footers as opposed to headers. This may be thanks to mobile ads. Who hasn’t learned to hate “Art of War”? We’ll probably see a decrease in the effectiveness on these over time. Visitors will form memories that will make stickies less tempting to click, but right now they are hot. They are hot because they funnel engaged visitors like crazy.”
- Product Videos Are Better Than No Videos
So first off, having video usually converts users better than having no video. No, it’s not just for branding and awareness.
We found one result that was pretty extraordinary. Matt Lawson, Head of Conversion at ao.com was quoted in this article as saying, “We have tested and proven that when someone watches our video reviews they’re 120.5% more likely to buy, spend 157.2% longer on the site and spend 9.1% more per order.”
But here’s something that might be controversial:
Any casual user of Facebook or Twitter will know that auto play videos are annoying, but oddly enough, most of the time they convert better.
Of course, this makes sense when you think about it. As a data-driven company, Facebook is clearly seeing better results from auto playing video. In fact, they tested it and noted that they found a “10% increase in people watching, liking, sharing and commenting on videos.”
Twitter tested auto play as well and found the following results:
People were 2.5X more likely to prefer auto play videos over other viewing methods (including click-to-play and video preview thumbnails).
They have better video recall with auto play. In fact, we saw a significant 14% lift in video recall over other video formats.
For brands, during our autoplay tests we saw a 7x increase in completions of Promoted Videos.
- Removing form fields
Online marketers try to collect as much information as possible. One sure conversion-killer is asking for unnecessary information on forms. A longer form often looks more imposing and some people will be less likely to complete it simply for that reason. If the actual information is sensitive in nature they will also have a strong adverse emotional reaction to it.
Is this information absolutely necessary to complete the current transaction? If you can’t answer “yes” to that question, the form field should be removed. This will save a lot of time and energy that could be exerted elsewhere.
- Prominent Contact Information
Even though it seems like a small thing, putting your phone number and email address on the top of your site definitely helps boost conversions.
It’s a trust thing. People want to know that they can reach you. It’s a simple fix that adds a lot of value. The famous example, of course, is Zappos. Along with their fanatical customer support, they’ve always featured their phone number prominently on their site:
An example of this is when LessAccounting.com ran a simple a/b test where they boosted conversions 1.8% by adding a 1-800 phone number to the top of their site.
As Sean Work from KissMetrics said, “The bottom line is that having a phone number does bring peace of mind to consumers and people you do business with. If, at the very least, it instills trust in your visitors and removes any “fly-by-night-operation” fear they may have.” It put their minds at ease.
Furthermore, click-to-call helps mobile convert better, especially for local businesses. Google actually did a study in 2013 that showed 70% of people use the click-to-call feature. In addition, they found 61% of mobile searchers said click-to-call is most important in the purchase phase of the shopping process.
Calls are king, and putting a phone number up is a pretty painless way to increase conversion rates (more often than not).
- Live Chat
Live Chat has almost become synonymous with good service, and with good reason: live chat usually helps convert.
Charles Schwab has an excellent Live Chat feature for customer questions.
What’s the point? Well, according to a Forrester report, “Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a web site can offer.”
- Trustworthy Testimonials Beat No Testimonials
Not surprisingly, leveraging social proof with legitimate testimonials can often increase conversions. Since word of mouth is a huge factor in purchase behavior, displaying testimonials can help drive trust in your site.
Your testimonials should be authentic and trustworthy. If not, consumers will be skeptical. In fact, a marketing study found that negative reviews can help boost your conversion rate (only to a certain extent, though. Too many negative reviews is not a good thing.)
How you display testimonials matters too.
Simple text testimonials can help. But adding a photo of the reviewer can help even more. Quality photos in general can help boost conversions, but specifically in the domain of reviews, they help add authenticity to the text. Finally, adding video testimonials can help boost credibility even more.
You can also leverage the credibility of other sites by pulling your testimonials from Yelp and other review sites and comparing them.
- Offer a guest checkout option
I went through the checkout process, and I was happy to note that they had a ‘guest’ option.
I chose ‘guest’ and paid for the item. Later on they asked if I wanted to register and I did anyway.
This is a common experience. The converse is much less smooth. When e-commerce sites force registration, they put up one extra barrier for the customer. In fact, 1 in 4 customers leave because of forced registration. It’s just another facet of ‘greedy marketer syndrome,’ and this can be solved with a guest checkout option.
- Free shipping
Charging for shipping is a conversion killer. At this point, the majority of companies offer some form of free shipping. If you’re not one of them, start trying to figure out a way you can offer it.
2BigFeet had already implemented free shipping on orders over $100 with coupons and had noticed a spike in conversion. After they made free shipping automatic on $100+ orders, their conversion rate increased by 50%.
ComScore found that Free Shipping Day increased sales for them by 16%.
A study by Compete found that 93% of respondents said free shipping on orders would encourage them to purchase more products online.
Note: this is not just a test object. This is a fundamental business decision. Shipping is a large expense for small businesses, and this is a tactic you will have to learn to implement into your business strategy. Sometimes, it might be damn near impossible to make free shipping profitable. However, there are strategies that you can experiment with:
In an article for Kissmetrics, Andy Hunt outlines 4 ways to make free shipping profitable for your business:
1.) Establish a Baseline: Compare conversion with and without a free shipping offer.
2.) Create Thresholds: Increase the minimum order value required for free shipping, and test the improvement in margin.
3.) Set Restrictions: See what kind of improvement you’ll get by offering free shipping only on select products where it is profitable.
4.) Enact Price Increases: Increase all your product prices to compensate for the loss you take on free shipping, and see how your profit compares.