When it comes to your BigCommerce store, you want to know what your customers click and why – or at least where they go. Many times your analytics program can tell you this information, but often it takes an enormous amount of effort to get that data.
Your BigCommerce store may be converting very well, but then again, it could be better. How can you test what’s working and what’s not? You can do the well known A/B split testing and multivariate testing with Google Website Optimizer for free. Split testing in this way is built right into BigCommerce for all product pages, single VS multi-page checkout, etc.
However, just like configuring an analytics program to track every detail you want, it takes time and a little effort. If you’re short on time and have just a bit of cash, you can let one or more of the website usability applications below do the testing for you.
When it comes to purchasing products and services, customers will often display different decision-making behaviors that you won’t understand until you test. In addition, since social networks are providing a discussion platform for customers, you’ll want to know what aspects of your site and your social activity are influencing customers’ purchase decisions.
Tools to Improve Your Website Traffic and Conversion Rate
Here are 13 tools I’ve researched to help you test your website navigation, design, sales funnel or path, or use them to test your Facebook fan page as well. There are more tools out there, but for this review, if they didn’t list their pricing, I omitted them – but the major players are here.
Feedback Army – $15 for 10 responses. Built on Amazon Mechanical Turk. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to do a quick test of your site.
Five Second Test – has a free community option where you earn points by participating and can use those when you need testing. Otherwise, starts at $20/mo for 100 responses.
Concept Feedback – also takes a community approach and starts at $99, but I didn’t find out what that entails.
Uservoice – does feedback for your site and also helpdesk work. Pricing starts at $19/mo for feedback and some full service options.
Usertesting – cuts right to the chase with their website tagline “the fastest, cheapest way to find out why users leave your website.” For $39, you get feedback, but the sweet part is it comes as a video (and written report, too) with the user talking you through what they are doing on your site.
Userfly – has a free plan that lets you take the system for a real test drive. You see videos of real users navigating your site, every click, every mouse movement. Great customer testimonials and endorsements. Paid plans start at $10/mo.
Feng-gui – has a unique payment model — pay per image. They assume you know what you want to test and so have a low-cost attention analysis approach. Offers an easy way to test an ad or a particular section of your site. Pricing starts at $25, which is $5 for 5 images.
Crazyegg – is one of the so-called 800 pound gorillas in this space. They are best known for their eye-tracking heatmaps so you can see where your visitors are looking, then clicking. Very sophisticated and plans starting at $9/mo.
Clicktale – offers a limited free plan, then jumps to $99/mo, but don’t rule them out yet. They offer a very sophisticated tool set and it might be a perfect fit for your store and email efforts. They have heatmaps and conversion funnels to help your sales.
Gazehawk – is another eyetracking, heatmap technology. It keeps track of where your users look on your website which allows you to test landing pages, registration/checkout flows, homepages. Starts at $495 for a 10-participant study.
ReQtest – is more for software developers testing their user interface and experience. It helps users to do web-based testing and bug reporting on the cloud. Free to $30 per user.
Unbounce – lets you create, publish and optimize landing pages for testing purposes. Starts at $25 and has a free 30-day trial.
Optimizely – allows users to improve their website through A/B testing. Starts at $19. Think of it as a more sophisticated Google Website Optimizer.
With affordable and easy tools like these to test almost every aspect of a customer’s experience with your website, there’s no reason not to give them a try. I’ve used several of these and will continue to leverage them. You need every advantage in keeping a customer’s attention in today’s hyper-connected busy, busy world. Start testing and start attracting more visitors, more sales, and greater profits!
A Few Follow Up Notes
I don’t include Amazon Mechanical Turk in this list above, but it’s a good tool if you want to crowdsource your feedback and manage it all yourself. It takes a bit more effort, though. Feedback Army is built on Turk and is very affordable, so I’d recommend it.
We completed a project for Sales Rescue Team last year and it’s a beautiful way to get feedback, in near real time, from a few people to hundreds. However, managing it manually is a real hassle so I would recommend you use Smartsheet – an online project management tool – to manage Turk because they have a sweet spreadsheet interface that’s easy to use.
One last thing about design and testing. In general, whatever you want to be clicked should be put it in the upper left corner. You can put it elsewhere, but so much research data, heatmaps, user studies, etc show people read in an F pattern and they scan the top two horizontal lines of the letter F first, then go down the left side. BUT, they start in the upper left corner. Hardly anyone puts their form or call to action right there. Depending on your design, another location might work, but if you’re using any traditional layouts, then I would test the upper left quadrant.
I’m not a fan of the so-called squeeze page, where you give users/readers no choice but the back button to click out, but simplifying your copy and design to make it really clear is the main goal of what I’m trying share here.
So in a nutshell, use the services above to figure out what visitors are doing and do more to keep them happy. Common sense isn’t always common, so do these simple things and you’ll increase traffic to your site because people will have a good experience and tell others. Simple, but true.
Published on February 28th, 2011 by Mitchell Harper
Overview: Today I discuss the 3-step process to create, launch and track your own large scale display advertising campaign.
Description: In this, episode 10 of the BigCommerce podcast, I discuss the 3-step process to create, launch and track your own large scale display advertising campaign for just a few hundred dollars using either Google AdWords or BuySellAds.
Here are the 3 steps I discuss in the podcast:
1. Banner design
You need to come up with strategy
Can use Google images for competitive intelligence – “[competitor] banner”
Need a strong call to action
Create 3 versions of your ad all with completely different calls to actions and designs
Test static (single frame), animated GIF and rich media (flash)
Can use CrowdSpring or a contractor from oDesk to do the actual designs
2. Campaign strategy
Who are you trying to target? Run a survey of existing customers to find demographics, which websites they spend time at, etc
What do you want to track? Sales? Newsletter signups? Etc
How will you define the campaign as successful or not?
What is your ROI goal? If you can get more than 1x ROI then you can scale up indefinitely
3. Campaign rollout
Can get started with Google AdWords display ads or BuySellAds.com
These will get you tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of impressions per day
You want to setup 3 separate campaigns, one for each of the different designs
After 2 weeks, look at the numbers and drop the word performing campaign based on your most important metric
Now test another design for each of the 2 remaining ads – same message, different look or call to action
After 2 weeks, pull the 2 worst performing ads
Goal is to keep testing new designs and calls to action against the winning ad
Published on November 30th, 2010 by Mitchell Harper
If I had to promote a brand new business and had $0, the first thing I’d do (besides social media marketing) is look to setup mutually beneficial (i.e. win-win) partnerships.
In this video I’ll show you a simple strategy for creating a joint venture contest from scratch. By partnering with companies who sell complimentary products to yours, you can have your products promoted to their customers and subscribers via email, Facebook and Twitter. Your only cost is a few hours to setup the contest and $1,000 in prizes.
The cross-company synergy you get from a contest of this type is huge, and best of all you can implement this strategy if you’re just getting started because all you need to do is come up with prizes to give away. You don’t need a huge brand or a marketing team either.
Well, the holiday season is almost upon us. As a way to say “thank you” for reading our blog (which now has over 50,000 readers a month – woohoo!) I wanted to give you a 27 page ebook that’s been 6 months in the making.
In Guerilla Marketing With Social Media I share the 7 social media strategies we’ve used to grow our business by 480% in the last 3 years (proof). And because these are all guerilla marketing strategies, you’ll learn how to reach a huge number of people for a very, very low cost.
This has been one of the most successful guides we’ve ever produced – it’s already been downloaded well over 5,000 times by people on our email list (sorry, they got it first!) so I’m confident you’ll love it.
Whether you want to increase sales, attract thousands of Facebook followers, launch a contest, partner with the big wigs in your industry or turn one-time customers into raving fans, it’s all here in this 27 page ebook.
Published on November 19th, 2010 by Mitchell Harper
I was looking over our traffic reports in Google Analytics earlier today and saw that our blog now gets close to 50,000 unique visits a month! I was also able to pull posts in order of popularity, so here they are – the top 10 most viewed posts for 2010:
Presentation: Bootstrapping to Seven Figures – This is a presentation I gave just once to about 3,000 business owners via webinar. In the presentation I run through the guerilla marketing and positioning strategies we’ve used to grow our e-commerce platform, BigCommerce, to just under 10,000 clients without any funding or debt in just over a year. .
How to Write a Profitable Returns Policy – In this post I look at a few things which should be included in your returns policy. Returns policies are extremely important when selling online. If you sell expensive products or if you’re a new store looking to build up your customer base quickly, the best thing you can offer new customers is a lenient returns policy. .
Head to Head: Product Page Design From Top Online Retailers – In this post I share, compare and discuss screenshots of product pages from sixteen of the top online retailers. You will of course notice a lot of similarities on their product pages, but I’m sure you’ll also notice a lot of small differences. All of the best practices implemented by these top online retailers can be found in BigCommerce. .
[Video] 6 Tips for Designing a Beautiful Online Store – In this video I share six tips to help you design a beautiful online store which will attract customers and increase your conversion rate. If you’re not a designer but are thinking about hiring an ecommerce website designer then this video will help you make the decision. .
Our blog is now one of the 10 most popular e-commerce blogs in the world, so thank you to everyone who keeps coming back and also to everyone who takes the time to leave a comment. 927 comments were posted on the blog in 2010! If you’re new to the blog then make sure you subscribe to our RSS feed, fan us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss a post!
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m big on educating people. A few weeks back I put together a presentation called “Bootstrapping to Seven Figures” which took me about a week to create.
Basically it contains the core ideas and strategies we’ve used to build our company to over 50,000 clients and high seven figures in yearly revenue. I shared my presentation with around 3,000 people on a webinar I did recently for one of our design partners and was blown away by the response – I even managed to score two marriage proposals before I was done!
Anyway, I wanted to share the exact same presentation with you, our loyal clients. If you’ve just started your business and you’re looking for a way to grow your sales to $1,000,000 within 12 months then this is it.
The tea in the photo above was purchased at a regular market so there’s nothing special about the tea itself. What is special, however, is the little card that was included with the purchase that directs you back to the tea makers website, www.realchai.com.au:
Here’s the message that was included with the tea if you can’t read it:
Dear Chai Lover
Thank you for purchasing some Real Chai from us today.
I look forward to you being part of our Real Chai community for many years to come.
I appreciate that you can’t get to the markets all the time so we have made it very easy to re-order your Real Chai once it has run out.
All you need to do is follow these simple steps…
Go onto www.realchai.com.au
Visit the shop page
Select your re-fill bag
Enter in your details
Watch it get delivered to your door step in days
Continue enjoying your Real Chai experience
If you have any feedback as always I would love to hear it.
Anthea Cahill (aka the chai girl)
Simple, effective, cheap to produce, and a brilliant marketing strategy – getting people who purchased from you at a market to your website using a piece of paper that probably cost 10 cents to print.
Try getting repeat customers for 10 cents using any marketing method period. Besides some creative email marketing, you’ll find it tough.
Why not take this idea and implement it for your business? Write your own message (or just copy Anetha’s – I won’t tell), print up a few hundred and slip one in with every order. I bet you’ll be amazed with the results
Whether they realize it or not, your customers go through four distinct steps before they buy anything online or off. This process is known as the buying cycle and the four steps are:
Realizing you have a need or problem
Researching solutions or information
Comparing options, price and value
Buying the solution to your problem
Repeating this process (optional)
In this video I explain the buying cycle and shares strategies you can use to assist your customers regardless of which stage of the buying cycle they’re in. The trick is to make your e-commerce store appropriate no matter which stage your customers are in, so they start with you and end the buying cycle with you, ideally coming back for more the next time they have a need or problem they need to address.
Overview: Today I answer five of the marketing questions that were submitted via fans earlier today on our Facebook page.
Description: In this, episode 7 of my podcast, I answer marketing questions from fans on our Facebook page. Topics include how to get sales when no one knows who you are, why the first impression of your website can make or break you, how to design high-converting landing pages and how I think e-commerce will change over the next five years. I also debunk a popular myth about Google AdWords and search rankings.
(Apologies for the hissing sounds throughout the podcast. It was recorded using the voice memos app on my iPhone as a test)