The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Digital Marketing

I just gave this presentation at UtahDMC’s 2019 Digital Marketing Conference. It’s nerdy. It’s full of marketing stuff. It’s hard to explain. Have a look, and see the links further down this page:

The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Marketing from Ian Lurie

Here are the links:

Me, Me, Me

How to find me:

Cool Stuff

Dungeons & Dragons Related

You know you want to learn more:

  • The home of D&D. Be sure to look at “New to D&D.”
  • Critical Role is a podcast where a bunch of nerdy-ass voice actors play D&D. I stole that description from their Dungeon Master Matt Mercer. Give this a listen, but note that you’ll get addicted. The stories are rich, the actors are hilarious one moment and deadly serious the next, and you’ll learn a lot. Oh, also: If you play video games, you’ll recognize the voices.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_and_the_Dread_Gazebo

The post The Dungeons & Dragons Guide to Digital Marketing appeared first on Portent.

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The Future of the Automotive Dealership

Introduction to a highly opinionated thought paper.

In this paper we show how the current dealership model is not viable, and introduce 10 new business models, as well as a number of quick fixes to increase profitability of the network. Please join our webinar here

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Social Media and the Role it Plays in our Lives

Social media plays such a vital role in our lives now. We can’t imagine life without it. This has become a global phenomenon and still widely spread. Social media is a medium that reaches people all around the globe. People are so connected these days; it is true that in the last 15 years, social media has taken the world by storm. Not so long ago was life still black and white? It was still a life where cell phones have not taken our lives completely and where we still use telephones to connect. The internet was used restrictedly, but this was just 10 -15 years back, and till then, social media and the internet has taken our lives by storm. It is estimated that in the next 15 -20 years, everyone will have access to the internet.

When we talk about the internet, we can’t ignore the social media sites be it Facebook or Instagram. These two sites have taken the world by storm and are conquering both the youth and the older generations. How social media gained popularity.

Social media – How it all began


When the social media sites of hi5 and Orkut was created and launched, it didn’t impact the people too much because at that point the internet was not introduced in the cell phones at a cheap rate. The internet was accessible only through laptops and computers. Although these sites like hi5 and Orkut gained popularity, the youth and older generation alike didn’t get addicted. The first internet services introduced in phones was in 1996, but the internet services were limited and really expensive, and this carried on till the year 2004 -05 when the internet services started becoming more popular in cell phones, it was around this year 2004 that the internet sensation Facebook was launched too and there’s no looking back.

With the introduction of cheaper internet rates and Facebook in 2004, the internet became a household name, and its popularity isn’t taking aback by anything since then. Let’s take a look at youth and the social media

Youth and Social Media 


 Previously the internet was accessible to people, but it didn’t play such a pivotal role in their life. Yes, it connected everyone, but people would use the internet only using email, but with the dawn of Facebook and other social sites, it has completely taken away the time of the youth who spends about 5 -6 hours on the social media sites such Facebook, Instagram, and other such addictive sites. Facebook was created and used in 2006-07, and Instagram was launched in 2010 and has gotten the whole world hooked on them, and this is not slowing down thousands of people are creating their Facebook and Instagram account so as we’re talking.

Effect of social media 


There is a widespread effect of social media, especially Instagram and Facebook. The most common negative effect is addiction.

Addiction 


The youth especially are addicted to these social media site, and social media control every aspect of their lives. They spend so much time on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and the latest addictive site TikTok. It can be assumed that social media has more addictive quality than cigarettes and alcohol, and this is alarming.

Sleeping Pattern 


Another effect of social media is unhealthy sleeping patterns. With the youth becoming increasingly addicted, they have unhealthy sleeping patterns. Because the youth use their social media until the late wee hours of the night, they generally lose their sleep. The social media sites are not only addictive, but it also affects the sleeping patterns because the youth would use the social media sites until the late hours of the night they generally fall asleep with their phones and wake up the next day holding on to their phones.

Depression


Another side effect of social media is poor mental health. It is found in studies that the excessive use of social media results in poor mental health and poor mood, which leads to numerous mood swings. It is found that the more time you spend on the internet or social media sites, the more it has adverse effects on your mood.

Unrealistic Expectation 


Because of the pressure to look good and present you in the best way at all time, this creates unrealistic expectations. For example, Instagram is a site where you upload your photos so generally the youth or the older generation would like to upload only photos where they look good, or they would like to upload photos of places they’ve visited. This instant need to look good and present yourself and your lifestyle in a grand manner lead to harming ways in which the individual either spends so much money to look good and spend money on their trips just so to look good on social sites and impress their followers on Instagram.

Ruins Body Image 


If you scrutinize Instagram, you’ll see that the celebrities play a major role in it and the celebs would post a picture of their perfect body and rich lifestyle and this creates such a disparity between the celebs and the common man. The common man starts building negative body image, and they would also like to become more like the celebs, and this harms them more than anything else.

Briefly 


It is therefore important to curb our needs and use of social media. If we use social media in moderation then there are no ways we’ll get addicted to it, and we can perform our daily functions without many troubles because social media really mess up with our daily functionality instead of doing our homework we spend our time on the social sites and this creates havoc to our daily lives.

Finally


To conclude, it is important to maintain moderation in life, be it in everything we do. So the same goes to social sites if we spend around 1 hour or at the most two hours on the social sites this doesn’t hamper with our daily lives and routine and it is good to be connected too.

Author Bio


Walter Moore is a notable management consultant and digital marketing expert. He is an experienced digital marketer and has helped e-commerce businesses in all niches gain with his effective marketing strategies and guidance.

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6 Best Practices for Your Link Building Email Campaigns

If You Just Build It, They Might Not Come

The saying “content is king” has been echoed by countless digital marketers across the globe. While creating useful and significant content for your brand is imperative for SEO success, it’s not enough. In order for your content to rank in competitive search engine result pages (SERPs), people need to link to it. Digital marketers can speed up this process of gaining valuable backlinks by conducting link building campaigns (otherwise known here as “outreach”).

While there are several link building strategies you can implement, all of them have one thing in common—email. Most people have a love/hate (mostly hate) with their email inbox, but distributing your content or guest post inquiries through email is the best way to build links. Yes, outreach can be done through other communication channels, like social media or messenger apps, but email trumps in comparison. Email is still the preferred communication method amongst most people (especially business professionals). In fact, Statista reports that there were approximately 281 billion emails sent and received in 2018.

With that many emails being sent out in the marketplace, it’s important for you to know how to stick out from the crowd. Luckily, we’ve written a guide to help you do this. Without further ado, here are six components of the best email practices for link building.

1. Hit the Right Target

This one may seem obvious, but outreach gets a bad rap due to not-so-savvy internet marketers promoting themselves or their content to the wrong people. Just like most things in digital marketing, targeting the right group of people is essential for success. Before you send off hundreds or even thousands of emails, it’s important that you do three things:

Find the Right Person

Fortunately for all of us, there are several ways for link builders to find the right audience to pitch themselves or their content to. The easiest way is to use Google search queries to find publications and influencers who are in your industry. On that same vein, setting up Google Alerts for industry-related keywords will bring fresh new content (a.k.a. publications to pitch) to your inbox on a daily basis.

Outreachers can also use Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms to conduct audience research. Additionally, paid tools like Buzzsumo allow you to conduct thorough research on the top publications and influencers who are discussing topics related to your field.

Make It Relevant for That Person

The contacts that you will email need to find value in the content you are promoting. You want to make their lives easier—not annoy them by crowding their inbox with useless or irrelevant information. Before sending a pitch to one of your contacts ask yourself, “How does this email add value to this person?” If you can’t confidently answer this question, then you need to reevaluate why you are sending that pitch to them. Your pitch has to be relevant, and useful to them or their readers.

Use the Right Tools to Reach That Person

As I mentioned above, you can use Google search queries and social media to find the right audience. But how do you find the best email address? How can you possibly keep track of all of the people you’re emailing? And how do you know if they are opening your emails? We’ve written about the best tools for outreach, so definitely check that out. There are several tools available to find your contact’s email address and keep track of your link building campaigns—organization is key here.

2. Obsess Over Your Subject Line

Subject lines will make or break your link building efforts. You need to grab your recipient’s attention and give them a reason to open your email. If they don’t open your email, then the chances of getting your content covered are extremely slim.

Quick Tips for Great Subject Lines

  • Leave out unnecessary information. Minor details should only be in your email body.
  • Try using different subject lines for your follow-ups; test out a different angle.
  • Use buzzwords that will interest your contact, pose a question, or offer a solution to a problem.
  • Use alerts like [Data], [Survey], [Report], or [Map] to describe your content.

Example: Let’s say that you want to obtain a backlink on a huge sports publication via guest posting. You spend a significant amount of time looking for the perfect contact and crafting the ultimate pitch. However, you send the sports editor an email with this subject line:

Screenshot example of a bad email subject line that reads "accepting guest posts?"Screenshot example of a bad email subject line that reads "accepting guest posts?"

 

Unless the editor is desperate for writers, you are most likely not going to get a response.

Instead, try being more specific and timely with your subject lines:

Screenshot example of a good email subject line that reads "Experienced Freelance Sports Writer Looking to Contribute About NBA Free Agency."Screenshot example of a good email subject line that reads "Experienced Freelance Sports Writer Looking to Contribute About NBA Free Agency."

 

Don’t be afraid to A/B test your subject lines as well. If a high number of your contacts aren’t opening your emails, try sending them the same pitch with a different subject line.

3. Personalize, Personalize, and Then Personalize Some More!

Editors, bloggers, and influencers enjoy authenticity. Personalizing your emails lets them know that you’re an actual person—not a robot spammer. Additionally, it shows that you put forth the effort to get to know them and their line of work. Personalization goes a long way, and it increases your response rates.

In fact, Backlinko recently conducted a study where they analyzed 12 million outreach emails. They found that emails with personalized message bodies have a 32.7% better response rate. Additionally, they found that personalized subject lines boost response rates by 30.5%. Personalization is the name of the game.

How to Personalize

You need to do more than include your contact’s first name in your email. Any robot can do that! Here are some quick personalization tips:

  • Talk about their work in a conversational, authentic, complimentary tone. Skim something they’ve written (obviously you can’t read hundreds of articles for your outreach, but get an idea of what they’ve published). Try to be specific–if you’re too vague, it can come off as disingenuous.
  • Ask relevant questions about their work. Asking thought-provoking questions to your contacts will most likely lead them to engage with you.
  • Personalize yourself. There’s no harm in introducing yourself. Providing background information about yourself helps your recipients visualize you as an actual person. Be brief if you do this, though.

While personalization leads to higher response rates, the true magic of personalization is that it helps you build long-term relationships with people relevant to your industry. These relationships can excel your link building efforts for years to come.

4. Get to the Point Quickly

While it is true that there are wildly successful long pitches, most editors and journalists that receive your pitch see hundreds of emails daily. Here are some tips to keep things concise:

  • Get to the point of your email as quickly as possible.
  • Summarize succinctly.
  • Have a clear call-to-action, and only one to avoid confusion.
  • Use bullet points for easy skimming.
  • If you’re promoting content, include a link at the bottom of your email to a Google Drive folder with all the assets your contact will need to write an entire article.

5. Communicate Value in Your Email Body

At the end of the day, you need to provide value to your email recipients. Whether you’re pitching yourself as a guest author for their blog or you’re promoting a recent content piece you want them to link to, you need to quickly explain why your pitch is worthwhile.

If you’re pitching yourself for a guest post, tell your contact that your expertise in your field in unique. Showcase your previous work, tell them why you’re a fit for their publication, and let them know that your article will be useful for their readers.

If you’re promoting a piece of content on your site, tell your contacts why they should cover and link to it. Does your content piece contain data that nobody else has? Is it the most up-to-date piece in your industry? Will their readers find it useful? Why?

The most successful outreachers are those that follow a simple rule—be a giver, not a taker.

6. Follow-Up

In the Backlinko study we mentioned above, emailing the same contact multiple times leads to 2x more responses. Website editors, reporters, and bloggers get hundreds—if not thousands—of emails in any given day. It can be easy for your outreach pitches to get lost in the abyss of a never-ending email inbox.

Follow-ups ensure that your pitches rise above the noise of a crowded inbox. However, sending short and generic follow-ups can actually do more harm than good. Each time you follow-up with someone, make sure to provide them with more value. It can be more information about yourself, a fresh idea for their site, or previously undisclosed data from your content piece.

Let’s Review

In all of your link building efforts, it’s important for you to prioritize quality over quantity. Emailing the appropriate person, crafting an outstanding subject line, personalization, communicating value, and following-up takes a lot of effort.

Resilience and persistence are the keystones of the most successful outreach campaigns. Your efforts will pay dividends, and over time, your successes will turn into great coverage, quality backlinks, a healthier backlink profile, and better organic search visibility—which makes everyone happy, right? Just remember to use the right metrics to prove your success!

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9 E-commerce A/B Test Ideas You Must Try

There are plenty of articles out there that talk about out-of-the-box A/B tests you can immediately run on your e-commerce site.

Although, with cookie cutter tests, you’re taking a risk. You might be running tests on parts of your site that don’t really need a test right now.

It’s kind of like throwing darts versus strategically moving a chess piece. The chances that one of those test ideas helps solve a pain point that’s happening specifically on your site is very low.

The same goes with any tests you run based off of assumptions or case studies you’ve seen on other sites in the past.

Your visitors are unique. Someone who visits your e-commerce site will behave differently than how they would on any other e-commerce site. That includes your competitors, who sell the same exact products.

That’s why the following 9 A/B test ideas are based on basic UX principles that you can apply and are catered to the experience your website alone provides.

Unfortunately, these aren’t out-of-the-box test ideas that you can run on your site immediately.

Fortunately, these aren’t out-of-the-box test ideas that you can run on your site immediately (see what I did there? 😉). These ideas will be specific to the experience you provide, increasing the chances you’ll have a winning variation.

In this post, we’ll cover three common content issues—unnecessary content, missing content, and lack of influence—and apply them to the most commonly visited page types on your e-commerce site:

  1. The product listing page
  2. The product detail page
  3. The checkout flow

Reduce Unnecessary Content

This refers to any content that is distracting, unclear, or downright confusing. Removing it is the easy part. Finding the content that isn’t necessary is what requires work.

First, ask yourself questions as you look at the page. Do a quick heuristic analysis on your own to develop some assumptions on what content might not be necessary. Explore things like:

  • Does a user have to stop and think in order to comprehend this view?
  • Is there a simpler way to communicate the main point of the page?
  • Is there too much information stuffed onto one page or region?
  • Are there unnecessary hyperboles that aren’t adding value to the information a user is looking for?
  • Are there any elements on the page that are distracting and not adding value to the main subject of the page? Some examples:
      • Unnecessary promotional banners
      • Irrelevant CTAs
      • Unrelated imagery
      • Exhaustive looking elements (long forms, tables, lists, large blocks of text, etc.)
      • Irrelevant associations
  • Does a user have to leave the page to make any relevant comparisons?

Then, set up some usability tests and ask your users similar questions as they go through the same experience.

  • Are there any elements on this page that distract you from your intent?
  • Are there any functions that you find unnecessary and would never imagine yourself using?
  • Is there any language that isn’t clear or direct?
  • Is there any content that you don’t need to know at this point?
  • Is there any content that might discourage you from taking the next step?

FYI: You’ll ask these same questions for the product listing page, product detail page, and the checkout flow.

For the following test ideas that address unnecessary content, we looked at some of the most commonly-used e-commerce sites and asked ourselves some of these questions to identify unnecessary content, some of which you might be using on your experience as well.

Test Idea #1: Reduce Unnecessary Content on the Product Listing Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to unnecessary content on the product listing page. Test removing these elements from your site if you provide a similar experience.

Promotions or Featured Deals That Take Up Too Much Real Estate on the Landing View

Your landing view is the most important part of any experience. Not giving users immediate view of what they are there for (browsing through product cards/categories) causes frustration and abandonment.

Screenshot example of too many large promotions on Ebay's landing pageScreenshot example of too many large promotions on Ebay's landing page
ebay.com

The Reviews Rating and Count for Non-reviewed Products

This is especially true when you don’t have a lot of reviews on your products in the first place. People will disproportionately choose only the few select products that have high ratings/review counts, leaving the rest of your products by the wayside. Showing no stars, or replacing with a small “no reviews yet” comment might be a better option for that product’s click-through rate.

Screenshot example of a Wrangler product with no ratingScreenshot example of a Wrangler product with no rating
wrangler.com

Distractions in the Product Card Image

Especially when it comes to apparel, you don’t want your model’s shirt to take all the attention when you are trying to sell the pants. Keep the complementary/surrounding visuals neutral so the focus is on the product you’re trying to sell.

Screenshot example of a distracting shirt in an Urban Outfitters product card for shortsScreenshot example of a distracting shirt in an Urban Outfitters product card for shorts
urbanoutfitters.com

Non-pertinent Icons, Links, and Text

It’s easy to want to stuff everything you can onto a product listing page. But some things are better left for the product detail page or even in the checkout flow. Like multiple rating systems, “verified” icons, random crowns, or contact links.

Screenshot example of too much information on an Alibaba product listing pageScreenshot example of too much information on an Alibaba product listing page
alibaba.com

Test Idea #2: Reduce Unnecessary Content on the Product Detail Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to unnecessary content on the product detail page. Test removing these elements from your site if you provide a similar experience.

Busy Navigation and Menus

When you’re users are still browsing categories and product types, it’s acceptable (actually encouraged) to make sure they have easy access to all the navigation items, search boxes, or featured deals.

But when a user gets to an individual product, you want to reduce those distractions so they can focus on the singular subject at hand. The featured deal and banner advertisement below draw attention away from the product and its details.

Screenshot example showing a featured deal and banner as distractions on a product pageScreenshot example showing a featured deal and banner as distractions on a product page
bestbuy.com

Unnecessary White/Empty Space in Product Image

Especially for aesthetically-driven products, you want your product image to display trust, quality, and attention to detail. This includes keeping your products featured at the center of your main product image.

Use surrounding white space in a balanced manner, and keep the product in the middle of your users’ view. When you push your product down, as seen below, it reduces a user’s perceived value of the product as it’s “at the bottom” of the image. The way you design the presentation of your product directly mimics the way users perceive it. Plus, in this case, users could see some important details of the product on the landing view instead of having to scroll for it.

Screenshot showing unnecessary empty space around a product image from DieselScreenshot showing unnecessary empty space around a product image from Diesel
shop.diesel.com

Indirect CTAs

You want your users to spend as little cognitive load (AKA thinking juice) as possible to purchase your product. Don’t try to be too witty or clever, especially with your most important CTAs. All product detail pages should have a clear “add to cart” or “buy” call out so users don’t second-guess if they are about to press the right button.

Screenshot example of a clear purchase CTA on Target's siteScreenshot example of a clear purchase CTA on Target's site
target.com

Test Idea #3: Reduce Unnecessary Content in The Checkout Flow

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to unnecessary content in the checkout flow. Test removing these elements from your site if you provide a similar experience.

Mentions of Other Products

When a user is in the checkout flow, the last thing you want them to do is to leave. So don’t give them any reason to. When you feature other products (related products, popular, etc.), you are enticing your user to abandon their checkout process and to possibly reconsider making a purchase.

Screenshot example showing potentially distracting featured products on Urban Outfitters checkout pageScreenshot example showing potentially distracting featured products on Urban Outfitters checkout page
urbanoutfitters.com

Unnecessary Extra Copy in CTA

As mentioned, your CTAs need to be clear and quick to read. When you combine other actions within the button, it will cause hesitation and users won’t know exactly what that button does right away. In this case, a fix would be changing it to say, “Pay with Credit Card” with a small info-tip below *This includes gift cards.*

Screenshot example of unnecessary extra copy in a CTA on Zumiez siteScreenshot example of unnecessary extra copy in a CTA on Zumiez site
zumiez.com

Add Missing Content

This refers to any content that a user is expecting to see or would need to see but the experience doesn’t provide it or it makes it hard to find. Discovering missing content follows a similar process as finding unnecessary content: ask questions in regards to your product listing page, product detail page, and the checkout flow.

This process will lean more heavily on asking your users versus developing your own assumptions. There are still opportunities to find the missing content on your own, but it’s going to be more of a guess compared to when you were finding unnecessary content. Try asking your users the following:

  • What would you expect to see on this page that is currently missing?
  • Is there anything that didn’t have the amount of information that you would want to see?
  • What questions are you expecting to get answered on this page?

Test Idea #4: Add Missing Content on the Product Listing Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to missing content on the product listing page. See if your site is also missing similar information and test adding it in!

A Proper Filtering and Sorting View

Make your product listing as easy as possible for users to browse through. Only giving your users the option to sort (as Glossier does in the screenshot below) and not filter makes it very strenuous for them to quickly find what they are looking for.

Consider utilizing a filter and sorting system for users to easily browse your listing page based on product characteristics.

Screenshot example of a limited product filtering system from GlossierScreenshot example of a limited product filtering system from Glossier
glossier.com

Showing Reviews/Ratings on Product Cards

Ratings and reviews are some of the top factors users consider when comparing products. If you have a rating system in place, showcasing them on the product cards will make it easier for users to decide if they want to take a step further toward that product compared to the others.

Screenshot example from a Nike product page with an suggestion on where to include product ratingsScreenshot example from a Nike product page with an suggestion on where to include product ratings
nike.com

Test Idea #5: Add Missing Content on the Product Detail Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to missing content on the product detail page. See if your site is also missing similar information and test adding it in!

Your Product In Action

For clothing retailers, It is as simple as putting your clothes onto a model instead of laying them out by themselves. In other cases, you might include a video showing people what the product looks like when being used. Either way, you want your visitors to picture what the product looks like as they will be using it so they can picture themselves with it.

In the case below, they should either zoom in on this picture or get the same skater to take a picture much closer up. Or in some cases, showcase a video as Allbirds does.

Screenshot example of a poor product in action picture from ZumiezScreenshot example of a poor product in action picture from Zumiez
zumiez.com

Context Around Recommended or Related Items

Simply saying “recommended” or “you might also like” when you promote related products does not provide the context a user might find useful. By explaining how you chose that suggested item, you actually make the item seem more attractive. A fix for this, which Amazon does excellently, is explaining things as “People who bought this also bought” or “People who viewed this also viewed.”

Screenshot showing an example of recommended items from DieselScreenshot showing an example of recommended items from Diesel
shop.diesel.com

Test Idea #6: Add Missing Content in The Checkout Flow

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to missing content in the checkout flow. See if your site is also missing similar information and test adding it in!

A Clear “Next Step” CTA Beneath Final Price

One of the most common things in the start of the checkout flow is confirming the items and prices. Usually, at the bottom of this details confirmation, is the final price total. If you don’t put a CTA right next to whatever your logical last piece of information is in your flow, it’ll induce frustration in your user and reduce the chances of them completing checkout. In this case, the logical next step is a sticky bar at the bottom of the mobile view. As seen in the screenshot below, when they get to the bottom of the final price, there’s no clear button there to take them to the next step. That sticky bar essentially falls victim to banner blindness since it follows you throughout the whole page.

Screenshot example of where a clear "next step" CTA should go on the Diesel checkout pageScreenshot example of where a clear "next step" CTA should go on the Diesel checkout page
shop.diesel.com

Static Product Info Throughout Checkout Process

This content is a win-win for both you and your users. By providing a static view of the product(s), you are reducing the chance that a user will go “back” to their cart to see what was in it. You also increase the likelihood they will complete the checkout as they will have a constant visual of the product(s) they are excited to get!

In this example, Macy’s is statically showing the costs in their checkout flow. Although, I don’t think any user is “excited” about the cost of what they are buying. By adding product name (and image if possible), it reminds users of the happy ending they are trying to reach by purchasing your product.

Screenshot example showing an opportunity to include static product info during Macy's checkout processScreenshot example showing an opportunity to include static product info during Macy's checkout process
macys.com

Adding Elements of Influence

Now that you’ve optimized the content, you have room to add elements that will make users more comfortable (and more excited!) buying products from you.

Elements of influence include things like trust badges, awards, reviews, partner logos, and so forth.

The goal of these elements is to reduce any anxiety that a person has in regards to their attitude toward your site. In many cases, these elements also serve as validation that your site is trustworthy and reliable enough to purchase from on the regular.

Think of these elements as a seasoning on your main dish. You want to sprinkle the right amount at the right time, but you don’t want to over-season the meal and ruin it.

It’s very important to only use legitimate elements of influence. Using made-up badges or fake reviews will have the opposite effect on your site and greatly reduce the level of trust it demonstrates.

Test Idea # 7: Adding Elements of Influence to Your Product Listing Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to elements of influence on the product listing page. If any of these scenarios apply to your site, try testing them!

Create “Trusted Seller” Badges

For e-commerce sites that serve as a platform for multiple sellers, users have a second layer of trust they need to apply. Help them reduce that cognitive load by assigning recognizable badges to your most reliable sellers or distributors. eBay does a good job of this below, but they don’t explicitly call out what “Top Rated Plus” means. Also, when a user navigates to the product page, that badge just disappears.

After some Google searching, we discovered that it was awarded to the sellers with the best customer service.

An easy fix here would be to rename the badge to “Highest Rated Sellers” or something more clear and to showcase this badge on the product page as well.

Screenshot example showing an unclear seller badge on ebayScreenshot example showing an unclear seller badge on ebay
ebay.com

Indicate Product Characteristics on Product Cards

Products all have characteristics that play a significant role in a person’s motivation to buy them. These include things like products that are on sale, top sellers, new, most reviewed, and so forth.

These characteristics will help influence your user to click into a product and give them valuable information at the proper step in the eCommerce journey.

The example below from Wrangler does a good job in indicating “new” and “top selling” items, but they don’t have any of these badges for products that are on sale. An easy fix would be adding a “Sale” badge on the appropriate products (especially considering many people look at sale items first).

Screenshot example showing how Wrangler indicates new and top selling items, but no badges for products on saleScreenshot example showing how Wrangler indicates new and top selling items, but no badges for products on sale
wrangler.com

Test Idea # 8: Adding Elements of Influence to Your Product Detail Page

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to elements of influence on the product detail page. If any of these scenarios apply to your site, try testing them!

Include Other Shopper Behavior

Social proof is a very influential concept when it comes to e-commerce decision making. If there are micro-actions users take on a product (besides adding to cart) that indicate positive sentiment, share that information with other shoppers.

For example, if you have a “favorite” or “wishlist” functionality on your site, showcase how many people added a product to it. This helps people understand that “other shoppers find this product appealing.”

In the example below, Wrangler does have a “wishlist” functionality (which is oddly hidden), but they don’t have social proof of why this product is valuable from the perspective of other shoppers. A simple fix here could be “130 other shoppers added this to their wishlist today” or “1,200 other shoppers viewed this product in the last hour.”

Screenshot example showing a lack of social proof of why a Wrangler product is valuable Screenshot example showing a lack of social proof of why a Wrangler product is valuable
wrangler.com

Reviews, Testimonials, or FAQs

Right back to the social proof again. The most influential thing someone could ask for when shopping is to hear from people who actually bought and used the product.

Some e-commerce sites might not have the volume to have reviews for every single product they sell. Even if that is the case, you can still include FAQs for that category of product.

In the below example from Diesel, this product page has no social proof in any regard. Some helpful FAQs here could be about fit, shipping, color, or any other common questions real customers have asked in regards to jeans in general.

Screenshot example showing a Diesel product page with no social proofScreenshot example showing a Diesel product page with no social proof
shop.diesel.com

Test Idea #9: Adding Elements of Influence to Your Checkout Process

Here are some common patterns we observed in regards to elements of influence in the checkout flow. If any of these scenarios apply to your site, try testing them!

Information Security (Trust) Badges

It’s much less stressful to input your credit card number when you know it won’t be compromised. Without any mentions of security or badges that communicate a safe checkout, users don’t have any way of trusting you with their information.

That’s why trust badges are so important to your checkout flow. The below example is the screen that a user would input their credit card information, but there isn’t one icon or element that is communicating about the safety of their information.

Screenshot showing a lack of trust badges on the credit card input section of Zumiez checkout pageScreenshot showing a lack of trust badges on the credit card input section of Zumiez checkout page
zumiez.com

*Here’s a great rundown on the potential impact of security badges and which ones are most effective.

Company Guarantees or Refund Policies

The best way to avoid buyer’s remorse is to get ahead of it. You can address these things ahead of time by showcasing customer-focused refund policies or quality guarantees in your checkout flow. This reduces any (and all) risk a user might be experiencing during checkout. Presenting these in a clear, comprehensive way (with no fine print exposed) is definitely worth testing.

The example below, from Target, doesn’t present any anxiety-reducing policies or guarantees. For big brands, who can afford to compensate customers when things go wrong, this should be the norm.

Screenshot example of an order summary page from Target that lacks any policy or guarantee informationScreenshot example of an order summary page from Target that lacks any policy or guarantee information
target.com

You’re Ready to Start Testing!

Now you’ve got at least 9 A/B test ideas (that will be custom to your site specifically) to run with. And if you ever get “writer’s block” when trying to come up with test ideas, just remember these three concepts and see where they can be applied on your site:

  • Reducing unnecessary content
  • Adding missing content
  • Adding elements of influence

Cheers!

The post 9 E-commerce A/B Test Ideas You Must Try appeared first on Portent.

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How to Manage Out of Stock Products to Preserve Your SEO

Note: This strategy is not exclusive to e-commerce websites; the issue just happens to be more common on e-commerce sites as products often become discontinued or go out of stock. If you have any pages with products or services on your website that could be discontinued or may become temporarily unavailable, this article will be beneficial to you.

If you manage an e-commerce website, then it is very likely that at some point, you are going to have a product that is temporarily sold out or discontinued. So, how should you handle those out of stock pages? This is an important question as it will help preserve your SEO and the overall health of your website. And, if handled correctly, it will result in additional revenue growth.

It is essential to understand that there are instances where these recommendations may not be the best fit for your website. As with everything on the internet and SEO, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Please look at these suggestions through the lens of your users and determine what variation is best for them.

Create a Custom 404 Page

If you haven’t done so already, you need to create a custom 404 page. A custom 404 page is not the solution to fix all of the problems related to your deleted product pages (in fact, 404 pages should be avoided), but since 404 error pages on your website are inevitable, you should customize it to provide a user-friendly interface as opposed to something generic.

What a 404 page is telling your users is, “Sorry, you’re out of luck. The product you want is gone. So, best you look elsewhere!” Then, just like any online user would do when presented with this page, they hit the back button.

Now imagine if you served up a 404 page to a user who was looking to make a purchase. Not only would your user get frustrated, but even if you have alternatives to that product on your website, the only thing your user would see is:

Screenshot of a low quality 404 error pageScreenshot of a low quality 404 error page

 

Here are some tips for creating a user- and SEO-friendly 404 error page for your website:

  • Design the look and feel to match your website. Consider including your main navigation or a partial version of it.
  • Apologize and tell the user what happened (try to keep it humorous to lighten the mood).
  • Provide suggestions with links to other relevant product or category pages that the user would want to go to.
  • Customize the 404 error page based on where the user was on the site (you’ll need access to a developer for this).
  • Include a search box on your 404 error page. I recommend putting the search feature front and center.
  • Provide a list of popular links to visit or product recommendations based off of products the user has looked at already.

Your users will appreciate a 404 error page that is actually helpful and friendly, rather than the standard browser-issued version. Below is a good example from Nixon of an optimized 404 page.

Screenshot of a good example of a 404 page from NixonScreenshot of a good example of a 404 page from Nixon

 

Now, let’s get back to what you came here for…

How to Handle Discontinued Product pages

Just because the product has been discontinued doesn’t mean that the demand for the product has also stopped. People may search for some products for years after they have been discontinued. For example, Cannondale’s Prophet mountain bike was made from 2005 to 2008, but the search interest continued at a fair rate until late 2013, as you can see in the graph below.

Graph of Search Interest for Cannondale Prophet mountain bike After Product DiscontinuationGraph of Search Interest for Cannondale Prophet mountain bike After Product Discontinuation

 

The continued search trend may be due to owners looking to purchase replacement parts, get product specifications, or to find owner’s manuals. Perhaps some people are looking to buy the bike after hearing good things about it (a fabulous opportunity to provide recommendations for similar bikes).

Offer Relevant Alternative Products to the Remaining Traffic

Determining whether or not to keep the discontinued product page accessible to users and indexable by search engines is another thing you need to consider. It’s only beneficial to keep the discontinued product page up if you have a relevant alternative product to offer users. Otherwise, it will serve no value to anyone.

So, if you do have a relevant product to offer in place of the discontinued one, something you need to look at is whether or not the discontinued product page is still getting relevant organic traffic and ranking well in search engines.

If you’re not getting relevant traffic, then you can jump to the next section below. If the product page is getting relevant organic traffic, then consider offering related products on the page for those remaining users that pass through. Start by letting the user know that the product they are looking for is no longer available, then provide some relevant alternatives.

Best Buy shows how it can be done:

Screenshot of a good Out of Stock Product With Recommendations from Best BuyScreenshot of a good Out of Stock Product With Recommendations from Best Buy

 

Keep in mind that the user is going to be disappointed that the item they are looking for is no longer available. So, your alternative suggestions need to be relevant to that product, or the user is unlikely to stick around and continue shopping.

Check the Page’s Organic and Referral Traffic Performance

Depending on the rate at which products go out of stock on your website, you could potentially damage your website’s SEO performance since Google doesn’t want to send users to sold-out product pages. So, check the organic and referral traffic performance of these discontinued product pages, and once organic traffic to the page has halted, you need to look into the page’s backlink quality and consider redirecting the page.

Does the Discontinued Product Page Have Backlinks?

Before you pull the trigger and delete the page because you have no alternative products to offer or no more traffic coming in, you should check to see if the product page has any backlinks. As you may know, backlinks are one of the most influential ranking factors used by search engines. You certainly don’t want to lose any of that value by deleting a page since 404 pages do not offer any link equity to your domain.

There are numerous tools that you can use to check for backlinks to your site. I recommend using tools like Moz’s Link Explorer, Ahrefs, or Majestic.

If you find that your discontinued product page does have quality backlinks, then 301 redirect (which is a permanent redirect) the page to a related product. If you don’t have a relevant similar product, then redirect the page to the relevant category or subcategory page. It’s crucial to avoid redirecting to a page that is also likely to become discontinued in the future. If you continue redirecting and redirecting again, you will have redirect chains on your website, which you want to avoid as it will negatively affect your page load times, user experience, crawl budget, and the link equity from the backlinks. If it is likely that the relevant product you want to redirect to could potentially be discontinued, then redirect to an appropriate category page as this is more likely to stay around for a while.

Keep in mind that being redirected without any explanation is very annoying, so choose when to redirect carefully. If possible, create a dynamically generated message that notifies your users that the product they are looking for is out of stock and they are being redirected to a relevant page.

How to Handle Temporarily Out of Stock Product Pages

When you have a product that is temporarily out of stock, you should keep the page live. You wouldn’t want to delete or redirect (not even a temporary redirect) these pages as the product will eventually be back in stock. However, you will want to provide some details to your users about the status of the product to indicate that the product is only temporarily unavailable.

If possible, give the user an idea of when the product will be back in stock or have them sign up for an email notification. Don’t forget to remove the option to add the item the cart. As recommended before, you can mitigate revenue losses by promoting relevant alternative products on the page while the product is temporarily sold out.

Ultimately, Keep Your Users in Mind

When managing out of stock product pages, you will need to use your best judgment and analysis to make the right decision for your website. When doing anything that will affect the user experience on your site, it is essential to keep your users in mind. By keeping your shoppers top of mind and doing what is best for your SEO, your website performance will improve, providing your users with a satisfying online experience.

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