I’m in a session with Linda Bustos from Elastic Path Software where we ask the key question: How do you get people through the conversion funnel? Here are my notes from the session:

Why customers abandon checkout:

  • Shipping / Handling is too high
  • Not ready to purchase
  • Wanted to compare prices
  • Want to save for later
  • Priced higher than expected
  • Didn’t want to register
  • Felt the site was asking for too much info
  • Checkout too long / confusing
  • Website was too slow
  • Not enough information to make a decision

People will put up with your unfortunate checkout process if you offer something of value. What are your value propositions? Make sure your value propositions are clear and repeated throughout your order process, from homepage to category page to product page to checkout.

How do you deal with FUD (Fears, Uncertainties, Doubts)

  • Free Shipping – play with restrictions / minimum order values on this to see what perfect point creates the highest conversion
  • $/% discount off a product – offer these on a limited time basis as well, to encourage buyers to act now.
  • Code your site so cookies stick and keep the cart contents of the customer there.  That way the customer doesn’t need to start the purchase again from stretch and are more likely to come back and convert.
  • With some technical ability, you can code your site to show specific offers to specific buyers to best target different types of buyers, which will optimize sales and conversions.
  • Under promotional code box put the link “How do I get these?” then have the customer enter their email to have them mailed to them OR make the coupon code box less obvious but creating a text link or button that says “add/edit coupon” so someone who already has one will look for it but someone who does not won’t leave your site to find one.
Here are some other take aways:
  • 23% of shoppers will abandon checkout if forced to Register. – Forrester Research
  • If you have to make them register, make it really easy because people just start filling out info without reading. Do the same for returning customers.
  • The “Amazon” way: just use your email address to start the checkout process on it’s own on a page. If it’s a new customer it will redirect them to the right place. If they are returning, they get into their account.
  • User testing is key to optimizing the checkout process.
  • You don’t need to have an in house lab to get user feedback. You can use Feng-GUI.com, attentionhawk.com, and attentionwizard.com as examples of heat map and user generated tracking info to get answers.
  • Start with calls to action when doing testing (clarity, styling and placement first).
  • Different checkout buttons can be a problem. If you’re using different checkout types (i.e.: PayPal, Google checkout and your own) make sure your own is larger or matching the size and position of the others.
  • Make sure you have security messaging (icons, recognized logos or words) that assure people your site is safe to checkout on, and make sure these are close to the checkout button or somewhere else noticeable.
  • Use * beside a required field versus just bolding the field. People won’t understand the bold font is supposed to be a required field entry.
  • Ensure flexible inputs in the fields (i.e.: phone number 555 555 5555 vs 5555555555 vs 1.555.555.555 etc)
  • Anything that requires a further explanation or questions in a user’s head, but a small icon or text link that the user can click on for more info, and have that pop up or pop out versus redirecting them to another page.
  • Remove all unnecessary fields and any long descriptions of those fields directly on the page.
  • Visual CVV explanation is helpful because many people still don’t know what it is or where to find it. Show them a picture of the back of the credit card and circle the three digits you are looking for.
  • Inline validation is huge. It leads to 22% increase in success rates and 31% increase in customer satisfaction
  • Reduce the number of steps on your checkout process if you can, but don’t make this your greatest focus because a checkout is a checkout – but definitely add testing this to your list.
  • When you’re testing the speed of your site to increase conversions, make sure you are testing the speed of your checkout as well, and test for different browsers, in different geographies and so on.
  • Proactive chat can increase sales and conversions, however it’s expensive so doesn’t need to be used all the time. you can use strategies to have it show up only during certain situations, such as when the cart is over a certain dollar amount, to save more higher ticket sales.
Final Recommendations:
  • Test the minutiae
  • Starting with multivariate (or using A/B like multivariate)
  • Common question: should you use cross sell and upsells on the checkout? Test this, but know the answers to the questions: what are your measuring (conversion rate or profit), how were they presented (above the fold, or below it), etc
Her suggested takeaways:
  • Optimization starts with in-head factors not on page factors
  • Form your testing hypothesis with user testing first, then heuristics
  • Start with radical redesigns and work from there
  • Interpret your test results wisely
You can follow Linda Bustos @getelastic, @roxyyo or check out www.getelastic.com