Jan 28, 2012

A/B Testing for E-Commerce

If you run an e-commerce store you probably understand the implications of the design of your site and its usability in effecting sales. A/B testing for e-commerce is a standard practice amongst big-box online retailers such as Easy and Amazon and for good reason. With a host of variables to test – from pricing to product categories to ratings, the potential for improvement is abundant. By a/b testing, you can see how small changes to your website will effect direct sales, not indirect metrics, making the investment well worth your time.

Call to Action Button



The buy now button is perhaps the most important element on an e-commerce website. While the call to action seems like a no-brainier in terms of conversions, many variables come into play in terms of designing them. What color should it be? How big should the button be? What should the text say? Are just a few of the questions that may trip you up.

Size

When it comes to the button’s size; it’s better when it’s bigger. Try to keep it around 230px wide and 45px wide if necessary.

Placement

Does your button placement follow the flow of your eye? It’s good practice to have the call to action situated above the fold as this is where the bulk of a user’s time is spent.

Text

Include a strong call to action to inspire customers to take action. Test out a few phrases and decide which one works best. For instance text that conveys a limited time offer is said to work most effectively.

Pricing Strategies

Another area of you e-commerce site well worth testing is the pricing. Your goal is to motivate the shopper to complete the transaction, so set up some a/b tests to determine which strategy will work the best.

.99

Will ending the price of some items to .99 increase sales? Read this psychological test to see how it can be applied to your website.

Pricing Boxes

The key is to not communicate too much nor too little. Conduct a/b tests in determining where to place pricing info in relation to other elements such as images and text. Also consider testing the policies you display on your pages.

Search Results and Product Displays

The Maxymiser A/B testing guide can answer a lot of questions you many have in regards to what products to display on your homepage and how many of them. Confused as to how many search results to show? You can test your order of search results as well as the number of them for maximum results. These tests will help you answer questions such as: Which view should you show by default?

Which view encourages more product exploration? And which brings more customer satisfaction (is more “usable”?)

Although the search results are only a step in the selling process, you can also measure search page abandonment, or look closer at your bounce rates and exit rates for list view vs. grid view.
Use Google Analytics in tandem with a/b testing to see how conversion optimization can work for you.

Conclusion

As you can see, a/b testing allows you to discover how small, incremental changes to your e-commerce site aids in your companies bottom-line. A/b testing will provide tangible results for your business in terms of revenue through the regular analysis of these three key elements. Does your e-commerce website conduct a/b tests and what elements have you found contribute most to the sale? Tell us in the comments section!

Mark Simpson — Founder and President Maxymiser Inc.

Mark Simpson is Founder and President of Maxymiser, the global expert in multivariate testing and behavioral targeting solutions. Mark introduced Maxymiser’s revolutionary Customer Experience Optimization platform to the market in 2006, which improves website and mobile conversion rates, revenue and overall brand experience for all commercial industries. Headquartered in New York and London, Maxymiser works with brands such as Finish Line, Hertz, Teleflora and Time Warner Cable, to instill cultures of conversion best practice, increase brand loyalty and improve revenues.

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