As a consumer, superlatives influence a lot of my choices. I’m a runner, so I often search running, fitness, and outdoor magazines for their editor’s picks of the best training gear. Recently, while shopping for a running mask, I compared lists of the top tried-and-tested neck gaiters. Then, I scoured product reviews from multiple retailers, zeroing in on the highest ratings, the lowest ratings, and the reviews voted most helpful by other customers. Finally, when I was ready to take the plunge, I ordered from a website that seemed the most trustworthy among them by offering a quality guarantee and no-fuss returns.
The superlatives that convince us to buy, like best, top-rated, safest, or most-exclusive, emerge by comparing and contrasting.
By definition, making a decision means choosing one option out of a field of options. In the context of shopping online, consumers may compare a product to other similar products, or they may compare buying that product to buying nothing at all. If you’re a direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailer, when optimizing for conversion it’s important to ask: what information matters to your customers and why do they ultimately choose you over your competition?
As we head into the fourth quarter of 2020, ecommerce retailers and partners will be confronted with plenty of reasons to push for standing out among the crowd.
COVID-19 is still spreading with the potential to surge in the colder months, so transparency, consumer safety, and delivery speed may outrank other motivating factors. And because consumers may also have fewer opportunities to try products first-hand before buying online, it will be critical for product pages to show upfront as much relevant information as possible. Compound that with the Holiday season approaching, in which consumers tend to purchase from larger retailers offering the lowest prices, best shipping rates, and simplest return policies.
The challenge is to be flexible and adapt to your customers’ shifting priorities in order to win them over and win out among a multitude of competitors vying for the same outcome. But this should ALWAYS be true, in any quarter, of any year, with or without a looming pandemic.
How do you attract your customers’ attention and keep it? You have to earn it. Take your best-performing products and highlight:
- How they compare with other products like them on your site.
- How they compare with other products like them on your competitors’ sites.
- How your site offerings compare with your competitors’ sites.
Some consumer behaviors are out of your control, like multi-tab shopping — opening multiple tabs to simultaneously browse similar product offerings across many stores. But you can change the way customers interact with product pages while they are on your site by engaging them with relevant content, conveying expertise and trustworthiness, and helping them discover for themselves why your site or your product is their best option. Give customers enough information to rationalize their decisions by:
- Diversifying product images.
- Reinforcing value propositions and differentiators.
- Incentivizing purchases.
- Empowering customers with direct comparison tools.
Let’s look at how some brands within the Fashion and Apparel, Electronics, and Health and Beauty verticals are effectively making a case for their products and services, keeping in mind that just because it works for them doesn’t mean it will work for you. While no solution is one size fits all, Something Digital’s Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) program can help you determine where to focus, develop a testing strategy, and measure its impact. Instead of following your gut and potentially losing money on changes that may not actually work for your customers or may not be the most impactful to the experience, A/B test data-supported ideas. The insight gained through A/B testing will help you make better business decisions, resulting in a positive ROI.
Diversifying Product Images
Nike product pages lead with emotion, without saying a word. In this example, the gallery displays large, crisp images of the shoe at every angle. The motion of a video draws our attention to all facets of the shoe and how it looks on a real body. Full-width photography captures actual runners focused, sweating, and persevering while wearing the shoe. Nike also demonstrates the technical components of the product, which as evidenced, is engineered to be worn by the world’s top sports stars. Nike isn’t simply selling a shoe; they’re selling the promise of achievement through hard work.
Compare the same product on your average sporting goods site and you’ll likely find that while the static product photography is just as sharp when zoomed in and might even showcase the shoe’s high-quality, it doesn’t tell the story Nike does. Often, retailers fail to contrast isolated product shots with lifestyle photography of the product in action.
Nike knows their customers’ ambitions and goals. They anticipate the questions their customers will have about the construction, material, sizing, and capabilities of a product and answer those questions through a diverse collection of images and videos. Customers need not to look further for visual proof.
Consider A/B testing the impact of:
- Increasing image sizes.
- Showing more images per product.
- Showing more image types (various angles, details, technical features).
- Incorporating video into the gallery and/or product details.
- Incorporating lifestyle images into the gallery and/or product details.
- Adding user generated images.
Reinforcing Value Propositions and Differentiators
Nike not only imbues brand messaging into purposeful and compelling media, but they also assert a clearly defined position and tone of voice in their product descriptions. Each headline is either directed at “You” the individual (e.g., “Tuned to Your Preferences”), or it builds up the new technology (e.g., “How the Peg Keeps Getting Better”). Or, it does both (e.g., “Your New-and-Improved Pegasus”). The persuasive supporting text reinforces qualities that differentiate Nike from other activewear brands — longevity, durability, worn and loved by elite athletes — and backs up their claims by thanking “You” the customer for giving Nike the feedback that made this new innovation possible. They intend for customers to emotionally invest in the product and rationally justify buying it.
Wireless headphone brand Jaybird doesn’t wait for customers to scroll to the product details. They know that if a customer has multiple tabs open to compare their earbuds to others like Bose and Beats, they need to compete by displaying key differentiators upfront, above the fold. Assuming that not all customers scan for the same information, they include a both bulleted list of incentives below “Add to Cart” button, and above it, a short paragraph summarizing who the product is for (endurance athletes), how it might be used (long distance runs) and how the features that ensure success (long battery life, waterproof). Jaybird appeals to the type of consumer who makes a snap decision about a brand solely based on their first impression.
For customers who are willing to scroll, the supplement startup Orgain breaks down content into digestible chunks of information on their product pages. Their bold, eye-catching nutritional facts highlight what sets them apart from the competition. In addition to a succinct and straightforward product description, they showcase their awards and certifications in a grid, with each block touting a visual badge (e.g., a Prevention Award), a headline confidently heralding a claim (e.g., “Proud Winner”), and a sentence to reemphasize their enthusiastic brand voice (e.g., “We’re obsessed about clean protein and it shows”).
Then, like Jaybird, they punctuate a list of other outstanding qualities with checkmarks, which serve to visually substantiate these claims. Instead of technical specs, Orgain opts for an FAQ. Their customers are likely to feel assured about the purchase and are less likely to waver or shop elsewhere because all or most of their questions have been anticipated and answered.
Consider A/B testing the impact of:
- Aspirational/emotional headlines and product descriptions.
- Displaying key differentiators and benefits above the fold.
- Chunking product details into easily digestible sections.
Price is often the deal maker or breaker when customers are comparing products. If you can’t offer the lowest price, you can offer other amenities to compete.
Bose, like Jaybird, offers waterproof wireless headphones for a comparable price. But Bose doesn’t hold the punches. Above the fold, Bose employs no less than eight methods to incentivize purchases:
- Displaying the original price, or MSRP, with a strikethrough and the competitive sale price in a larger font than the product title.
- Including a link to ‘Find a Store’, giving customers the flexibility shop in either a brick-and-mortar location or online.
- Integrating with Klarna enabling customers to pay in installments.
- Conveying urgency by estimating a fast 2-day delivery if the customer orders within the provided time window.
- Reminding customers how much they are saving by buying the product on sale.
- Advertising free gift wrapping.
- Offering bundling, in this case, a 50% discount on charging cases when customers purchase the headphones.
- Rounding out the total package plugging their 90-day Risk Free Trial.
Jaybird similarly shows a strikethrough price, but not in a comparatively large font size. They also call out free shipping and a money-back guarantee, but by comparison with Bose, these incentives are minimized.
And what happens when you throw Amazon or Walmart into the mix? Alongside marketplaces, brands like Bose and Jaybird have the added competition of potentially more user reviews, 2-day delivery, discounts for credit card sign up, conveniently stored addresses and credit cards, and, of course, familiarity. To go up against these behemoths, what you bring to the table needs to stand out.
Consider A/B testing the impact of displaying the following near the “Add to Cart” button:
- Payment plan details.
- Free shipping messaging.
- Loyalty benefits.
- Return policy link and satisfaction guarantee.
- Risk-free trial policy details.
Empowering Customers with Direct Comparison Tools
On Running, an athletic shoe brand based out of Switzerland, ensures customers are outfitted with the best possible shoe for their terrain and goals by enlisting three direct comparison features on their product pages.
First, within the size guide, customers can select their usual shoe size either from a dropdown of On models or from a dropdown of competitor brands and based on that combination, they will recommend a size. Second, within their technical specs, they have a direct comparison tool in which customers can see the shoe they’re looking at side-by-side with another On model. The data visualization is minimal, well-structured and stripped of technical jargon; customers can quickly scan back and forth between to two to make an assessment.
Lastly, On serves up alternative products, enabling customers to preview other models and color assortments without leaving the product page they are currently browsing. The images are large enough that customers can compare the alternatives to the shoe featured in the main image gallery. Products are tagged with badges that indicate whether they are “New Generation”, “New Color”, or “Last Chance”, which could persuade customers who might like the original shoe, but associate “New” with “improved” or who might associate “Last Chance” with “lower price.”
And because the “Add to Cart” button sticks to the screen top on desktop and screen bottom on mobile devices, it follows users on scroll. While examining the cross-sells, customers can add items to the cart, including the original product, without scrolling back to the top of the page or navigating to a new product page. A customer might come to a decision at any moment. On not only equips buyers with direct compare and contrast tools, but they are also ready to capture the sale.
Consider A/B testing the impact of:
- Adding comparison charts on page.
- Adding a size guide.
- Comparing the fit of other brands with yours in the size guide.
- Showing alternative products with large images.
- Add badging to distinguish products.
Closing the Loop
Before I suit up for a lap around the park, let’s review.
Customers make decisions by comparing and contrasting. Recognizable brands like Nike, On, Bose, Jaybird, and Orgain don’t just rely on their reputations to increase sales. Through research, they discovered that diversifying product images, reinforcing value propositions and differentiators, incentivizing purchases, and empowering customers with direct comparison tools all have a big impact on the bottom line. They earn their customers’ attention and keep it by investing in CRO, gathering observational and quantitative data on their customers’ behaviors, hypothesizing how they can influence a behavior change, testing out different tactics on their ecommerce sites, and monitoring the results.
At SD, our top priority is for your business to thrive. There is no one size fits all strategy to persuade your customers that you are the best choice for them, but our CRO program can help you form a clear picture of who your customers are, what their frustrations are, and what motivates them in order to rollout focused tests and measure their impact. Are you ready to hit the ground running? Contact us today to learn more.