We have been loving the weather here! We recommend you have a little break, get yourself a smoothie or ice based drink and have a read through the latest news and insights from the e-commerce sector. There has been lots going on...
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Why have Google forked out £400 million on a little known London startup called DeepMind? Although Google purchased DeepMind back in 2014, there has been no evidence that DeepMind have done anything to make or save Google any money. That all changed on Wednesday when Google announced they had found a use for DeepMind's artificial intelligence. Read the full article here.
Is the amount Apple are set to make in revenue from Pokémon Go's users. Apple stands to rake in $3bn from the Pokémon Go craze in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokéCoins' from its app store, according to analysts. Read the full story here.
'Black Box Thinking' by Matthew Syed
Writing product descriptions can be daunting and difficult. When I am working with client companies, I often find their product copy can be cheesy or dry. This is particularly true for resellers, who tend to use the manufacturer's descriptions. Here are four ways to improve your product description and better engage with customers.
1. Inject some personality
The product copy should reflect your company's values. If you are a large corporation and your message is 'a safe pair of hands', then the text included should be a reflection of that message. If you are all about the fun, the product description should also be fun. Make sure you stay true to your brand and your values. Take a company like Innocent Drinks. They were one of the first companies to give their products personalities. Their style is cheeky, friendly and amusing, as are their product descriptions. The product copy for their strawberry and banana smoothie is a great example:
"Whether they’re foraged at a pick-your-own, served with a side of cream at the tennis or crushed lovingly into our drinks, strawberries are delicious. And we’re very fussy about which strawberries we use in our smoothies, which is why we grow them where the sun always shines and taste them up to seven times before they go into our bottles. And it’s also why we’ve added 25% more of them to this smoothie. The more the berrier, indeed".
As you can see it is fun, entertaining, friendly and completely reflects their company brand and identity. Now, I'm not on any sort of commission for Innocent but they are a good example of a strong brand who write product copy that is very much in keeping with their company. When you read the product descriptions you could probably guess the company without even seeing the item.
2. Employ an expert
If you are a business that sells thousands of different products, then writing product copy can feel well, just a bit brutal. Employing a copy writer can ensure engaging copy, written in 'plain English'. Be aware that the writer needs to really 'get' you as an organisation. They need to understand where you are coming from and what you represent, otherwise it will never reflect your personality.
3.Tell a story
I am a firm believer in the power of storytelling. This is not a new thing. In fact, if you look around, storytelling is used all the time and to great effect. You see it used in politics, training, sales, marketing and in advertising. You are looking to connect emotionally with your potential customer. Along with the images and reviews, the product description builds up a picture, in the visitor's mind, of what it might be like to own the item. The more realistic that fantasy, the more you will connect on an emotional level with the visitor and the more likely they are to press the 'buy now' button. This may all seem terribly manipulative which is exactly why is also needs to be completely authentic. What is it that makes your brand different? Why should people choose your products? What is your USP? If you manufacture your products sustainably and this is a core value, this should definitely be emphasised in your product copy. If you only make one thing and your USP is that you are the best at making it, then make that part of your story.
Storytelling is a great way to connect with your customers in a way that is both engaging and emotive. Get it right and people will buy into your brand and start to push that 'order now' button. Get it wrong and new leads will be turned right off.
4.Cross your t's and dot your i's
You have moved heaven and earth to ensure that your product copy is engaging and a reflection of who you are as a company. Don't let yourself down with sloppy grammar and spelling mistakes. If your style is informal and chatty, there is a greater risk of grammatical errors. Make sure you run all your copy through a spell checker and get someone who has not been involved in the writing process to give it a quick read through. Customers need to feel confident that you are a professional organisation. Minor errors can make everything feel very amateur. Don't make it hard for visitors to press the 'buy now' button.
Do you have other tips and hints on how to write great product descriptions? If so, we'd love to hear from you.
Does your e-commerce site encourage browsing?
More importantly does it convert browsers to buyers?
We all like to see the statistics demonstrating X number of new visitors to your site. However, if those potential new leads aren't (virtually) hanging around to browse and ultimately buying something, they remain just stats!
Make it easy for your web visitors to browse. Make it hard for them to resist a purchase.
After 13 years working in the e-commerce sector, here are my three top tips for improved browsing and better conversion rates:
1. The navigation
This is the principal way in which customers browse the website. It is therefore essential that it is logical, clear and fast. Is it in a logical location? Most people expect to find it at the top of the screen on a desktop and as a 'hamburger menu' on a mobile or tablet. Creative designs are all well and good but if the customer can't orientate themselves on the site, they're not going to get very far.
Is the filtering system clear? If you've spent a lot of time working on the design and content of the site, it becomes easy to get bogged down in the details and fail to see things from the customer's point of view. How easy is it to drill down to the product you want? It can be helpful to include a 'mega menu', allowing customers to quickly search for the relevant item. Jewellery resellers, Jewel Hut do this well. Hover over a top level navigation item, such as Pandora, to see this in action. Simple additions, such as colour and font, can help a visitor identify where they are on the site and on the filtering menu. If some of the text is a link, then make sure there is colour on the roll over. This will indicate to the visitor that there is a link to another page.
We live in a very fast paced world and if a site fails to load quickly, visitors are more and more likely to abandon the page.
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load
You only have a few seconds to capture someones attention, so don't lose out because of slow loading speeds.
2. How scannable is the site?
Reading online is 25% slower than reading from print. Why is this? Mostly because it is harder to do. Your eye is distracted by colours, fonts, pop-ups, advertising and images. When you read printed text, your eye moves naturally from left to right. This isn't the case for online text. Therefore, you need to make website copy much more scannable. Text should be visually broken up with white space. Sentences need to be short and, if possible, only include one concept, idea or product per paragraph. Filtering menus need to be very easy to scan over, enabling potential customers to easily see what they are looking for.
Physical shops - bricks and mortar stores - understand the power of their display window. They are always trying to catch the eye of a potential shopper. They keep their displays fresh. Mega stores such as Selfridges have been spending serious money for nearly a century to attract people into their stores. This concept can be translated into your virtual shop front, your home page and subsequent landing pages. If you sell women's clothes, make sure the category pages show clear, large images of the products. Visitors should be able to rotate the image. Size information should be very easily available and clear. You want your potential customer to be able to visualise themselves wearing the dress. The more they emotionally connect with the item and start to imagine owning it, the more likely they are to make the purchase. If your images are not up to scratch, visitors are very likely to abandon the page before purchasing anything.
There you have it, three ways to encourage browsers to buy. If you have other ideas on how to improve conversion rates, we'd love to hear from you.
The checkout page should make it easy for customers to provide their details and move on. At this stage the customer has committed to buy and wants to get through this section as quickly as possible.
How can you improve your online checkout page? It needs to be smooth and secure, whilst only asking for the minimum information.
I think we have probably all tried to buy something online, but the checkout process has been so arduous that you've actually abandoned the purchase out of sheer frustration.
If you want to understand what cart abandonment could mean financially for your business, there is a great article here. It provides different way to calculate this loss. This can be helpful if you need to present a substantiated rationale to your team to improve your checkout page.
I have identified 4 different sections of your checkout page which directly impact on checkout abandonment rates. Get them right and conversion rates will go up. Make sure your e-commerce site is reaching its true sales potential. Don't let yourself down at the final hurdle.
The address should be clear and easy to complete. If relevant, make sure the autofill is on and logical. Anything you already know about the visitor should be completed already. These days people don't expect to have to input their entire address. I am a big fan of predictive search in address lookup. The double click approach whereby the visitor enters their house number/name and postcode and then selects from a list of possible addresses is simple, popular and easy to use. Anything that makes it easier for the customer is a winner. This may all seem very basic but I am often surprised how many websites I come across that haven't bothered to include simple things which can speed things up considerably for your customer.
Some e-commerce sites, normally from sectors that see themselves as 'down with the kids', will use a 'fresh' or different layout for their address section. I would suggest this is unnecessary and can often cause confusion. The more ‘traditional’ form layout, with the label outside the box and a border just around the form field is usually the best. Customers are used to this design. They have already committed to buy, providing the form in a style with which they are accustomed, may make it easier for them to complete.
Make sure it is frustration free. If the customer presses the back button don't make them complete the address section again. We all know how irritating this can be!
Think about how your checkout page will appear on a mobile or tablet. The form needs to be relatively large and clear. Remember someone actually needs to be able to press the buttons with their fingers. The form should not be so small (i.e. before the user has enlarged it) that it is impossible to complete. The form also needs to work when rotated from portrait to landscape. Thinking about these simple user requirements will reduce checkout abandonment rates.
The delivery section should be simple and clear. I don't think anyone particularly enjoys completing a web form. The longer and more complex it is for your visitor, the more frustrating it will feel. Given that you are only moments away from making a sale, don't ask for unnecessary information or make things complicated. Here are a few ideas that will speed things up for your customers:
Once again this step is critical to the buying process. It needs to be simple, clear and function well. When I am working with e-commerce companies, things that I look out for include:
Customer service information
If is often helpful to include the customer service links on the final checkout page as well. Customers usually feel more at ease if you include statements like "Have a question? Do get in touch. We would love to help you". This should either be a link or should be followed directly by a phone number, live chat, an e-mail address and/or web form.
Do show the returns policy as a sales feature on this page. This will encourage buyer confidence. If they can clearly see that they have 30 days to return their item, free of charge, then that will often give the customer the extra reassurance they need to press the 'buy now' button.
Most websites want you to buy something, be it a product or service. Difficult, confusing or just not user friendly online checkouts, can be a really blockage to a visitor becoming a customer. Make things as easy as possible with the best checkout experience.
As ever there is loads going in the e-commerce sector. Take a little break from your work load and skim through some of the most recent news below. You never know there might be some ideas in there that you could implement in your business...
Why You Shouldn't Schedule Meetings Longer Than One Hour
CRO for Inbound Marketing: 6 Conversion Optimization Initiatives to Implement Today
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Facebook has never had more users, made more money per user than in Q2 2016
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Why has Noble-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz called Apple's business practises "fraud"? Read the full story here.
Is the amount Kickstarter generated for start-up companies, ranging from virtual communities to real-life enterprises. Read the full story here.
The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Prof Steve Peters
'If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.' Jeff Bezos
The product page has one key objective: to get the visitor to hit the ‘buy now’ button. Its secondary purpose is to provide information. This instills confidence, encouraging the visitor to make the purchase.
How do you create the best e-commerce product page? How do you entice your visitor and make the purchase irresistible?
Most e-commerce businesses understand that there are certain things that need to be included on a product page:
We have recently redesigned and relaunched the Jersey Beauty Company website. We are one of those companies with literally thousands of different products. So, what do we do to make our product pages stand out, to make them a little bit different? How do we include all the relevant information without detracting from the product itself?
'The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven't given them anything else to care about.' Seth Godin
'Because of the increased use of social media on smartphones and social medias involvement in retail sales "social selling" has become red hot. Anyone hoping to improve their online sales success must take advantage of emerging trends.' Eddie Machaalani