Every time I talk about conversion optimization with my clients, I’m asked the same question: ‘Do those details really make a difference?’ I know. We are talking about small adjustments that seem so minimal it’s almost beyond belief that they can make a difference. The word optional next to a field in a fill-in form, a call-to-action button, a line of micro-copy at checkout. Just details, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. It is precisely those details that determine whether your visitor crosses the finish line. This is especially true for 7 or 8 figure e-commerce sites, because even half a percent change in conversion rate can mean a few hundred thousand dollar change in yearly revenue.
A ‘Goodwill’ Bucket
An image says more than a thousand words. Allow me to borrow a relevant illustration from Steve Krug, one of the foremost usability experts. Krug uses the description ‘a reservoir of goodwill’, but for the sake of simplicity, I use a ‘bucket of goodwill’.
Visitors land on your site with a bucket of goodwill. Not everyone has a bucket of the same size, some have a bit more patience than others. The bucket isn’t filled to the same level for each visitor either. If they know your brand, and they regard your business highly, then their bucket is probably pretty full. But perhaps they once bought something in your physical shop, and the person who helped them was not in the best mood that day. When they come to your e-commerce, the goodwill bucket is only half-full.
All these visitors have one thing in common, however big or full their bucket is, every time something isn’t clear, doesn’t work properly, isn’t user-friendly or frustrates them, some of the goodwill drains from the bucket.
Until the bucket is empty.
And then the visitor is gone.
The amount of goodwill that disappears from the bucket with every obstacle is not always the same. Usually, it’s a little at a time until the bottom of the bucket is reached. But sometimes you kick the bucket over all at once.
This is How the Bucket Empties
Which elements on your website make the goodwill disappear the most? A few examples:
- Hidden information. Never hide information that is critical for your visitor. The price, the delivery cost, and the delivery terms are all elements that your visitor needs in order to make a decision. And yet, some sites hide that information. They assume that a visitor will keep clicking until they find it. Wrong. It only creates irritation. And so empties the bucket quickly.
- A forced format. Nearly every form suffers from this. Instructions for each field on how you have to fill in your details. Or even worse, no instructions at all. You get an error message that your details have been entered incorrectly. Maybe you didn’t put spaces between the digits of your credit card number, or you must. You have to enter the country code for your VAT number, or you don’t. This kind of formatting is not your visitor’s problem, it’s yours. You’d be amazed at how much irritation this causes. Let your customers enter their details the way they want. And do the formatting on the backend.
- Too much information required. Numerous forms are set up by greedy marketers who want to collect all kinds of data that isn’t essential in the context of the form. The date of birth is a typical field where people drop off. That feels private. With this one field, you sometimes kick the whole bucket over. Only ask for the information that you really need. If you’re not planning to call your customer, then don’t ask for a telephone number. If you’re not going to send them a birthday present, then don’t ask for a date of birth. Only ask for what’s absolutely necessary to complete the transaction.
There are many other examples, but the ones above clearly show how small things, that seem like details for you, make a world of difference for your visitor.
Yes, The Devil Really Is In The Details
Not convinced of the power of details? Check out these examples.
Remove Currency Sign, Add 6 Figures In Revenue
For a client of ours, we ran a test where we removed something that seems almost insignificant: the currency symbol. On the category pages, we took away the currency symbol, ran the A/B test, and BAM!
Yes you read that right. That’s a €680,000 increase in additional yearly revenue. Who knew such a small change could provide such a huge impact on revenue. That’s not to say that this always works, because we’ve seen this same thing tested for other clients and they saw no impact or even a negative impact.
A Small Visual Cue Leads to $750k in Additional Yearly Revenue
Another client example involves adding two little arrows to the CTAs in the checkout. This visual cue has produced huge impacts on revenue and conversions for some clients, but not for others….that’s why we always test it.
In this case, we saw a 22% increase in conversions which could produce an estimated $753,512 in additional yearly revenue. Now that’s the power of small changes.
Expedia: One Field, $12 Million More Profit Per Year
Expedia’s example perfectly shows how the influence of a minute detail can have an enormous impact on your profits.
They discovered that many visitors clicked on the ‘pay now’ button, but didn’t complete their reservation. These people had searched and found a hotel, entered their complete payment information, clicked on Pay now, and then suddenly dropped off. Bizarre.
More thorough research demonstrated that the problem came from one field. It was the field ‘Company name’, that came just after the first and last name fields.
Apparently, many visitors didn’t understand that this field was only intended for business customers. Some filled in the name of their bank. And given that the address fields were below that, they then filled in their bank’s address instead of their own. But when they then clicked on Pay now, their credit card was refused. The address that they’d given didn’t match the address that was linked to their credit card (their personal address). The payments failed, and the customers dropped off.
Expedia decided to remove the Company name field. The results? One field less produced 12 million dollars of extra profit per year. Yes, profit. Though they aren’t a client of our’s, this is still a great illustration of the impact of small changes.
Big Win For An 8 Figure Client
We’ve had some awesome wins for clients throughout the years, below is just one example of many but it clearly illustrates how a seemingly small change can have a huge impact on revenue.
For this test, we changed the text on the product page button from “Order” to “Add to Cart”. Add to Cart is much more prototypical at the product page stage, whereas “order” is more commonly seen in the checkout when you’re placing your order. How much of a difference can a change in text make?
Turns out, this resulted in a huge increase on mobile to the tune of €468,658 in additional yearly revenue.
Small Change, Big Negative Impact
Now, we just showed you a big win from one of our 8 figure clients, but numbers like that aren’t always the case otherwise you’d implement every change rather than test it.
For one of our clients, we wanted to make the site feel more secure. We added a small piece of microcopy below the buttons in the checkout that mentioned the site uses SSL encrypted checkout.
A tiny piece of text should just be a no-brainer to implement, right? Once the test completed, we found that it would have produced a $456,602 loss in revenue if it had been added to the site.
This just illustrates how important it is to test things. Small changes can product big increases in revenue, but they can also cause you to lose revenue as well.
What might appear trivial for you is not necessarily trivial for your visitor. Small details stop them from converting. Take those obstacles away and keep that bucket full. Your visitor will convert better.