Part 5: Product
How to Craft Product Pages that Make Visitors Demand Your Products
“Sure what we do has to make commercial sense, but it’s never the starting point. We start with the product and the user experience.”Steve Jobs
Apple spent $1.7 billion on research and development in the June quarter of 2014, and is rumored to spend $600 million on retail store facilities in 2015. That’s a lot of spend on product and how it is delivered.
CEO Tim Cook invests in how the product is sold because he knows the value of experience. Every square foot of an Apple store is designed to make you spend. Every pixel of your product pages can have the same influence.
Conversion optimization of a product page begins at the product. You then learn ways to optimize the experience for commercial gain. A high-converting product page has an anatomy that can be cut-up then analyzed so you can replicate the experience it gives to visitors.
Sell a Hot Product
There’s no better way to have a killer conversion rate than sell a product someone wants to desperately buy before they hit your store. Bad markets alone can be the sole source of a stinking conversion rate.
A lot of stores have a bestseller category. See the bestsellers of your competitors.
Terapeak is devastatingly effective at gathering every piece of information from eBay and Amazon. Know the sell-rate of products, number of bids, and average purchase price for products, categories, and keywords. Map out exactly what to sell and how much of it.
Use Your Products
Ideally you use your products day in, day out. If not, why not? Don’t be that company who is out-of-touch.
You have to know firsthand what’s good and bad about what you sell. Maybe your manufacturing process needs improvement, you need to source the style of product from another brand, or you realize how awesome the product is and your product photography does it an injustice.
You also use the product to gather a kinesthetic experience that helps you empathize with your customers and write in-detail. Good copywriters like John Carlton would sift through all words of an educational DVD set to pick every lesson then write a captivating bullet point on it.
A great product does not equal sales, but a long-term kick-ass conversion rate is hard without a great product.
A product name can influence visitor interest, bounce rate, SEO, and PPC.
To name your products right, know what visitors look for in them. You can be informational (brand, model, version) or descriptive (colors, dimensions, styles). The 3D Printer uses brand and model in product names because knowing the manufacturer is important for repairs and accessories. Color and size in clothing can be important descriptive attributes to include in product names. Ron Bennett names their clothing with color.
Site architecture can also influence product name. Ron Bennett uses “jacket” in a lot of products listed under the “coats and casual jackets” collection to reinforce product clarity and no doubt help SEO. A conversion-focused idea is to include “benefit language” in the product name like “Nike Free Runner Shoes – Super Comfortable for Exercise”.
Optimize and adjust product names as you go with Google Webmaster Tools. Under the “Search Analytics” report, check the “Pages” radio button to see the search queries that lead to the most impressions and clicks. Front load your most important words in the product name.
Hot Product Photography
People identify images within 13 milliseconds. We notice product photos first on product pages.
Have yours count instead of using drab photography or unclear manufacturer photos. Photos can make an otherwise disinterested visitor curious and an interested visitor more likely to buy. Here’s how to make your product photography convert into sales:
- Make your photos high-quality. This includes getting professional photography done. Black Milk Clothing have hot photos.
- Use a white-background for your primary shots. Upgraded Ape did so instead of their already good photography on a rug to increase their conversion rate 21%.
- Have product photos taken from various angles. It eliminates questions in the mind of the interested buyer. Capture important elements like the dials on white goods.
- Provide context in your photos. I call these lifestyle photos. Show how your customers use your product. Tattly do this for their tattoos.
- Provide photos of variations. Studio Neat do a great job with their Neat Ice Kit. Free People replace existing photos with the clicked variation.
- Have a zoom feature on images. Take this to the next level if you have money to invest with 360 degree photography or an interactive photo to increase perceived ownership. Suzanne Shu has good research on the topic.
- Combine photography with graphic edits to reveal facts about your product that standard photos cannot show. That Inventions use graphics for ThawTHAT to show heat regulation. Bionic Gloves create a kinesthetic sense hard to replicate in words for how gripping their golf glove is by blending an octopus with their glove.
Video nearly universally increases conversions over no video. The reasons good product photography boost conversions is similar for video. Video reveals product intricacies and allows you to sell to your biggest buyers with detail and visual stories. It’s the most time-tested proven way online retailers can get visitors to experience the product.
Matt Lawson from ao.com found, “Video gives us the opportunity to wow our customers and this in turn delivers results. We have tested and proven that when someone watches our video reviews they’re 120.5% more likely to buy, spend 157.2% longer on the site and spend 9.1% more per order.”
- Make your video informational rather than a cheesy product pitch. Although if your video was awfully funny, it could work because it is overly bad and lead to loads of traffic. Zappos do video great by educating viewers.
- Consider your narrator. EyeBuyDirect.com found a male-narrated video had 9.28% conversion rates compared to a 2.78% conversion rate for the female-narrated video.
- If you find video increases your conversions—and you most likely will—get more people to watch the video:
- Embed the video rather than only provide a link. Thinx use embed, autoplay, and transparency well. See an example.
- Use a play button overlay or test other overlay information.
- Provide a clear-to-action like “Click to Play”. Draw attention to the video in product descriptions like, “See how fast this widget cuts food by clicking here to watch the video”. BodyBuilding.com use video with a strong image of credibility above it.
- A good thumbnail helps video engagement.
- Video isn’t limited to products. Video injects added power to testimonials and the company story.
When testing video, look at the micro-conversions of views and time-watched to gauge behavior. You can more quickly optimize videos this way to learn what interests visitors. YouTube makes this easy with YouTube Insights.
Lack the budget for good video? Test it on your bestsellers.
Write Detailed Product Descriptions
I estimate three of four stores have poor product descriptions. Most are either lazy by using a manufacturer’s description or don’t write enough.
PJ O’Connor Jewelry Designs provide custom jewelry and have a great opportunity to show-and-tell the manufacturing process of each piece. Instead they provide 11 words.
The ideal message and length of a product description is one that accurately reflects that product and provides enough information that lets someone convince themselves to buy. Follow these tips for product descriptions that convert into sales:
- Make it known who is it for, what are the details, where someone uses it, why someone uses it, when is it used, and how does someone use it. Don’t be afraid to sell to your foxes. Go into detail. Refunds and returns will plummet.
- Answer every possible question someone could have about the product. Provide full specifications like sizing, dimensions, and product materials. You discover more unusual things someone wants to know about a product with surveys and chat. I love how Eastbay provide a Q&A section for products. This is doable in Shopify with the Yotpo app.
- Transform features into benefits to make ’em drool. Even professional copywriters accidentally revert to feature-focused language. Wrangler do a good job with their jeans that promote your “assets”. The “waterproof runners allow you to exercise in any weather while keeping your toes dry and snuggled-warm.”
- Use personality to match your image. If you think your product is boring, you’re either in the wrong market or need inspiration. Home Shop give some flare to simple hand wash. A lot of Etsy sellers seem to understand how to do product descriptions possibly because of their personal link with what they make.
- Tell a story. It can be a personal use of the product, from a customer, or the manufacturing process. One Etsy seller slips in little story comments in her Unicorn Farts lip balm product.
- Help readability with simple words, bullet points, and formatting. Share your strong points first. Nike provide a short description then link to more details in a section beneath. It keeps core call-to-actions and information above-the-fold.
Split-test product descriptions of your bestsellers to get the quickest data of what works and to scientifically convince yourself it’s an area to improve your store.
Product Description Extras
Most online stores stop product detail at descriptions and specifications. Increase conversions with extra tid-bits of information to reinforce trust and build value.
Three critical product description extras to consider for all product pages are:
- Guarantees, warranty, and returns. Mention your guarantee in more places than your footer. Reinforce the minimal or zero risk to the customer on the product page. Furniture company Brosa repeat their clear returns policy as icons on the product page and in the header. You do provide guarantees and returns, right? They reduce risk and are no-brainers to boost conversion.
- Delivery. Do you offer free delivery? A link in the footer of your store is insufficient. Repeat delivery and return information on the product page to build trust. Living Dead provide such information in a popup link below the product description.
- Product use and care guidelines. You help customers get the most out of their purchase and increases the value of your offer. Kookai give care instructions for their clothing. Bali Body sell body oils and advise visitors “ways to use” their purchase. This makes readers see themselves stepping out of their shower then applying the product lotion to their skin as the “natural goodness” is absorbed.
People shop together as a hungry hoard even online. We use people to figure out if the product will work for us and whether we’ll love it. High-converting product photography and descriptions begin to address these concerns. Social proof through reviews from customers is even better.
A 2011 iPerceptions study found 63% of people are more likely to make a purchase from a site with user reviews. Jupiter Research found 77% of consumers read reviews before an online purchase. Reevoo says reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales. Reviews affect your conversions.
Reviews seem to have the biggest impact on conversions when there’s 0-10 reviews with a plateau around 20 and another 18% uplift between 25-50 reviews.
Try Yotpo Reviews , Judge.me, or Shopify’s own Product Reviews app to get setup with reviews then get your customers commenting on your store. Require reviews be approved first to moderate spam. Monitor reviews and respond by addressing product flaws or negative experiences.
No reviews risk hurting your conversions because it says no one is buying the product – social proof works against you. It can be a trade-off of sacrificing conversions early to get customer comments. Follow-up emails and social media comments are the best way to get reviews. As part of my email marketing service for Shopify stores, a customer engagement email series helps you drive more reviews and conversions for your products.
A testimonial is a quoted endorsement. Testimonials from celebrities, customer emails, user quotes, or social media comments slipped onto a page can handle objections that fall in the “will it work for me?” category.
Savvy shoppers are numb to vague, quoted remarks from so-called customers. You have to do quoted remarks right to make a testimonial convert. Specifics like features loved and results achieved bolster credibility. A brief story of what the person tried, how the product helped them, and who they’d recommend the product has been effective for copywriters.
Sometimes your customers will email you great comments or rave about you on a forum. Leverage their comments for conversions. Coffee Joulies use testimonials from their Kickstarter project where good comments were made before any review system was in place on the store. The testimonials could be made more believable with names, photos, and locations to build truth in the social proof.
Customer Use of the Product
Have a section on your product page where customers show off what they bought. It’s a great way to use social media and social proof in ecommerce. An automated email a few days following the delivery of their purchase is a good time to make the request.
ThinkGeek provide an area on the product page where customers can submit photos. It’s common for their customers to geek-out in photos with humor, scenarios, and full gear because ThinkGeek know their foxes. They provide clear directions to submit a photo and incentivize with a $100 gift certificate.
Black Milk Clothing upload photos of women wearing their clothing once they tag a photo on Instagram or Facebook with the appropriate hashtag. The company links to the original social post for added proof which also allows interested visitors to speak directly with advocates.
If you and your audience are big on Instagram, the Social Photos app can automate the collection, organization, and publishing of Instagram product photos.
Out of Stock Reminder
If you can’t prevent products from going out of stock (but you should try), have a feature that lets visitors get a reminder email when the product is back in stock. Frame the notification in a way that compels visitors to show their interest to make the product available:
The Now Back in Stock app can notify users via email and SMS when a product is available for purchase.
You may find social buttons increase conversions and visitors. 39% of marketers say social sharing is very effective at increasing conversions.
If the product gets poor social engagement, it may be an unnecessary piece on the page that adds to clutter or distracts. Finnish company Taloon.com removed their Google+, Pinterest and Facebook share buttons from product pages then had 11.9% more clicks on their “Add to Cart” button:
Test the location of social buttons and whether having them impacts conversions. Review your social shares on pages you want to test and the traffic coming to the page via the social sharing to judge if any new conversions outweigh traffic gains.
Show Notifications of Customers Who Purchased
We look to other people’s behavior for direction. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence writes, “We seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.”
Reviews, testimonials, and customer use of the product are three ways to guide your visitors into what other people. Visitor notifications of customers who purchased is another way ecommerce can leverage social proof.
Booking.com are the pioneers of sale notifications. They inundate a visitor browsing a particular listing with notification boxes in the bottom-left to build social proof and continue through checkout with other popups like “Cheapest price in the past 40 days”. eBay have used similar social prompters for years. Look at all the red. There’s a reason eBay repeats the number of people who purchased.
Procrastination kills productivity and it may also butcher your conversions. Your visitors think “I’ll keep looking” to find what else is there. Put a fire under their feet to move them along the purchase process.
There are a couple of ways you can implement urgency on your ecommerce store to increase conversions:
- Countdown sales, promotions, and events with a countdown timer.
- Time-sensitive coupons for cart abandonment. This is doable in Klaviyo, my favourite email marketing platform for Shopify.
- Mention the hours and minutes the visitor has to order to get their purchase by a particular day. Amazon create urgency with a clear countdown timer related to next-day delivery. The ShipTimer app lets you do this.
- Display stock left. Test because you may find it boost conversions only when products are low in stock. Booking.com provide a clear period of time a purchase will probably sell out.
Cross-Sell and Upsell
A cross-sell is an offer of another product prior to purchase. It differs from an upsell which either seeks to add revenue to the order with a higher priced option or is an offer after payment. Some marketers have slightly different definitions. The two are interchangeably used in the ecommerce-world, even though they differ.
Cross-sells and upsells are thought of as revenue boosters rather than conversion boosters. Amazon in 2006 reported 35% of its revenue came from product recommendations. An upsell and cross-sell can affect conversions because they give people a targeted alternative, alter confidence in the product, or present a custom offer that prompts urgency.
The type of selling aims to increase profit-margins by getting people to spend more:
- When someone buys one packet of chocolate, offer another packet at checkout for a reduced cost.
- If someone looks at a $1,000 television, mention a model up in the product suggestions section. This of course presumes the higher priced item is more profitable. The presence alone of a higher priced item may increase revenue 4%.
- At checkout or in the suggested products part on the product page, you can test “You may also like” and “Customers who bought X also bought”. If someone buys shoes, recommend socks that match.
- Ezra Firestone’s One-click Upsell lets customers add additional items to their purchase after payment. Simple way to increase revenue by 20%.
- Add-on upsells and cross-sells I’ve seen work include extra warranties, product support subscriptions, and training. People love these reassurances “just in case”.
Cross-Sell is one way a Shopify store can pick the products they choose to sell with the product viewed. Product Upsell app lets you show a popup once someone adds an item to their cart (technically a cross-sell). Each app more than pays for themselves.
South Record Shop have what I presume is a suggestion of similar music yet provide no context. South African liquor store Mudl Liquor provide mostly higher priced whiskeys as recommendations for one whiskey. Stores half-hazardously implement product suggestions because that’s what the owners have seen done elsewhere.
Test because you need to ensure upsells and cross-sells do not undermine your primary offer with distractions or confidence, in substitute for added revenue via another method. Also split-test the design of how the offer is presented, its location, and the specific products presented.
The downsell lives by the motto “any sale is better than no sale”. The person doesn’t want a $500 suit? You give a discount or sell them on a $300 suit.
Drew Sanocki from DesignPublic.com and a competitor were the only AdWords advertisers for a $10,000 lamp we’ll name Lampola. Drew stopped the ad campaign because it gained zero sales yet the competitor continued. Years later Drew met the competitor CEO over coffee then asked him if he sold any of the lamps? “No”, he replied. “Then why were you advertising it so much? I noticed your ads everywhere.” “Because the visitors who clicked on the Lampola ad came to our site and purchased the Crapola, and they bought a ton of them.”
The Crapola lamp had high margins and high volume. The CEO was sure to include the lamp as a suggested product for Lampola.
Not all downsells are healthy for business. A downsell is laden with risk in ecommerce because the purchase funnel and life cycle of a customer is not linear. Any sale is not better than no sale. For a moment we move beyond conversion rates.
People have started to abandon cart on purpose and expect to receive a discount in an email days after abandonment. It is hard to downsell without jeopardizing profits or training visitors to eat at your profits.
Aim for maximum lifetime value rather than any sale. If you decide to downsell with coupons, think again then view your time lag report to see when sales taper off. Test the follow up of email coupons around this time period. Even then, you have to consider future purchases. What’s your average customer lifetime value?
All things equal, you are more likely to cut profit from price cuts when you sell exclusive products because your visitors have fewer perceived options.
The more reliable downsell is a cheaper product in a “similar items” listing on the product page. It could have less features, be a model down, or just be cheaper. If it has higher margins at a lower cost to the customer, that’s even better for your bottom-line. Though your product-to-purchase conversion does not change on the primary product, your total purchases grow as you help visitors grab what is right for them.
There is one gaping piece you haven’t placed to make your product pages sell like hotcakes. Let’s discover how to price your products right. It is the quickest and most dependable method to increase the profit of an online store.