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Checkout page A/B testing: 3 dead-simple changes increased sales by 15%

Posted in A/B Split Testing, Case Studies on February 1st, 2011

The experience in the checkout flow is extremely important but quite fragile. Whenever visitors have taken the motivated action to “checkout” or “buy” they have already told you that they are ready, they are no longer using the shopping cart as a calculator to see how expensive it’s going to be. They WANT to buy your items now but why some of them end up abandoning the carts and not make a purchase? The simple answer is insecurity.

Here is how Optimeria (an agency specializing in conversion rate optimization) addressed the insecurity issues on Slideshop.com and drove a staggering +15% boost of conversions with only 3 changes on a single page.

The results of the test

Results were +15.05% conversion rate increase with a 98% statistical validity and 200+ conversions per treatment.

Original page v/s Variation

The test was a radical split test where they bundled multiple elements into one single treatment and put it to test against the control (original checkout page). Prior to constructing the variation page, they made use of an extensive range of conversion flow analysis and also used findings in other tests from the same client (see other case study: how left navigation menu increased conversions by 34% for an eCommerce website).

Original checkout page

Variation: 15% increase in sales

The checkout on Slideshop itself is a simplistic version of a normal checkout process because they sell a digitally downloadable product (Powerpoint presentations + elements). There are 3 simple steps in the overall process:

  • Enter email address
  • Choose payment option
  • Pay and download the product

They identified 3 main problems with the current “enter email” page (step 1 in checkout) and decided to address them hoping to decrease shopping cart abandonment.

Concern #1: Why are you asking for my email address?

As you surf over the Internet as a shopper, a lot of decisions are made from intuition. Your brain only asks you from time to time to justify a choice your subconscious had already made for you. So in many ways you are actually shopping on autopilot.

This autopilot does not like when things aren’t as expected. This specially true in checkout step because it is so close to making an actual payment. Therefore they needed to address the concern (on Slideshop checkout page) of asking for an email address without any explicit motivation. They also needed to tell WHY and WHAT the benefits of this transaction are (I give you my email address and you give me what?)

They addressed this particular issue by adding a value to the transaction (Send download to this email address) and stressed that email information would not be misused, sold or shared. They fulfilled the value to the customer in this exchange: I give you my email address and you give me a link for my download.

Concern #2: When I get through all this, what can I expect from your product / services?

No service is alike. There are always unique concerns that only apply to one business, product or service and in this case they already knew that one of the concerns of the customer was “How can I actually use your product once I’ve downloaded it“. They address this issue several key places in the website already, however they felt that adding it on checkout page at (a crucial moment in the decision making process) would help build up necessary motivation to follow through on the purchase.

Additionally, their thesis was that addressing the concern about what to do if a download is incomplete or gets deleted and making it clear that once purchased, the customer can always re-downloaded it would add to the motivation for completing the transaction.

They addressed both issues at a very center and prominent position just beneath the call to action to signal to the user that they know these concerns were there and that customers shouldn’t be worried about them.

Concern #3: OK, I will do the payment, but what if my credit card info is stolen?

When a call to action is as crucial as “continue to payment options” it’s also going to set in motion some common insecurities about the next transaction. Even though we all know that we aren’t going to be charged anything before filling in credit card details, we still don’t like the feeling of being in a situation where issues like “What kind of credit cards do you accept?” and “Is the transaction secure?” aren’t adressed before moving on to actual payment step.

You might think that it doesn’t matter as much because first step is not the actual payment page, however your users’ brains don’t make that distinction. They are already fast-forwarding to the payment situation where another decision is going to be made. At this point, they can subconsciously act on insecurities to avoid being put in a situation where it “feels wrong” and hence simply abandon the shopping cart.

They addressed this by adding following in the variation:

  • What kind of different credit cards are accepted
  • Trust seal by Verisign to ensure transaction will be safe
  • Known security items of the actual payment transaction (like PCI compliance, Verified by Visa, etc.)

All this to make the user at-ease with the current stage of the decision process.

What to learn from all this?

Well, even though some of these elements are unique for Slideshop and the market in which they operate, the learning from this case study is that it is crucial to address key concerns (conscious and subconscious ones) at the right stage in the decision process.

Karsten Lund is CEO of Optimeria, a Danish company which is a Visual Website Optimizer certified partner. He recently wrote about a case study (in Danish) where he managed to increase sales by 15% by optimizing checkout page. He used Visual Website Optimizer for A/B testing so on our request, he translated the case study in English and we published it above.

Paras Chopra

CEO and Founder of Wingify by the day, startups, marketing and analytics enthusiast by the afternoon, and a nihilist philosopher/writer by the evening!

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3 Comments
Vic
February 1, 2011

Landed here via:
http://news.ycombinator.com/news

and this is very useful, insightful information you’ve published here.

I think every e-commerce web site (and many non-commercial ones too) can have at least something valuable to learn from this post. Thanks for sharing.

Ronanob
February 2, 2011

This makes a lot of sense explaining why you are asking for details and establishing trust. I’m going to go add this to my site now. Thanks.

[...] When the risk is higher, as with social security and credit card numbers, the level of credibility aligned with the action should be, too. When a brand is not inherently credible enough in name alone, as Amazon is, it will usually rely on logos and trust seals, such as those for the Better Business Bureau and PCI compliance, in order to increase consumer confidence. [...]

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