October 2nd, 2012 | 3 MIN READ

Best Practice Gone Bad: 4 Shocking A/B Tests

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

One company's "best practice" is another's conversion killer.

In our webinar E-Commerce Conversion Optimization from Entry to Checkout, Chris Goward of WiderFunnel shared several real A/B tests that bust a few best practice myths. We'll examine 4 here (to see 'em all, why don't you check out the replay?)

1. Promote the heck out of your promotions

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Put psychological pressure on your customer to convert now instead of checking out competitors, sleeping on the decision or letting the sale event expire. Do it with "BUY NOW" labels, quantity in-stock countdowns or suggest the sale price might not be around tomorrow.

It's actually sound advice that is expected to convert like crazy for some websites. But it doesn't work for every site.

WineExpress tested an urgent call to action "order in the next [remaining time] and get $0.99 shipping" during a 24-hour shipping promotion event.

The result was a 7% decrease in conversion rate for the version with the shipping offer.

The marketing insight is, the wine connaisseur is not a deal-hunter. She is less likely to respond well to aggressive sales incentives.

A follow up test confirmed this belief. WiderFunnel tested a larger call-to-action window with "on sale now" messaging.

The result was a 5% conversion rate lift, and 41% higher revenue per visitor for the original page, without the sale messaging.

For this business, perhaps testing an incentive of a wine connaisseur gift, such as a wine-saver or bottle opener combined with an urgency message would have outperformed the control. (An idea to test, not to implement just because it sounds like it could work.)

3. Follow web conventions

Peruse through the Internet Retailer Top 500 List and 99.9% or higher will present the add to cart button on the right hand side. It's one of the most entrenched web design conventions we have in the Western world.

But does that mean it's optimal?

According to research by Jakob Nielsen, user's eye fixations skew heavily to the left side of a page.

Baby Age flipped image and call to action, placing the CTA on the left, which lead to a 16% boost in conversion rate.

Don't be afraid to challenge conventional design!

4. Over-communicate security

Everyone's scared to shop online, right? You've gotta remind folks you're a secure site, yeah?

Using a security badge has helped improve conversion on countless sites, especially when proximal to the entry fields for financial information. We've even published 2 cases where conversion rate improved 4-6%.

But this isn't a universal rule.

In this test by WiderFunnel, the version without the security seal won the test.

It really depends on the site.

Sometimes reminding folks about the risk of shopping online arouses FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

The point of this post is not to say best practice doesn't matter. Rather, take "best practice" advice under advisement, and put it to the (A/B) test on your site to see if it's best practice for your industry, geography, customers, product and site context.

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