If you’re an e-commerce retailer, the bottom line is always sales. And the bottom line of sales is …
Not all product pages are created equal, but after examining thousands of them in hundreds of industries, and creating, testing and perfecting thousands more for clients, I’ve learned that successful product pages all have something in common. I call them the five habits of highly successful product pages:
1. Make it about trust. Most shoppers don’t trust salespeople, and nobody trusts computers. And rightly so! Identify theft, credit card scams, security breaches, blackhat targeting … the list of bummers goes on and on. That makes creating trust the first priority of an optimized product page.
- Trust seals and icons: Every retailer knows that these are needed at checkout, but the product page is where you need to start building this trust. Many shoppers won’t make it to the cart and may be unfamiliar with your brand, so give them some comfort early on.
- Clean design: A cluttered website is never taken as seriously as a “clean” one. If it looks like you paid your nephew to build it on a budget and apply band-aids as needed, you’re doing it wrong. Professional-looking product pages start with clean, contemporary design.
2. Create a sense of urgency. Every online retailer knows the agony of the cart tease — i.e., shoppers who add things to their cart, think about it, then think better of it and never buy. When we added time expiration to PriceWaiter offers to create this urgency, we saw a 19 percent lift in conversions across hundreds of our retailers. Smart online retailers disrupt that complacency by creating urgency — starting on their product pages.
- Limited availability: Let the consumer know that the item they want won’t be available for long. A good way to do this is by showing them a dynamic counter of how few of the items are left in stock. The same goes for putting a limit on price availability. Let consumers know that the price they’re seeing now will only last for the next few hours; you’ll see sales tick up.
- Timers: When a consumer is looking at your product page, show them a timer that lets them know how soon the product can be shipped to them if they order quickly. Amazon.com does this very well. The shopper begins to wonder if they really want to wait an extra day to get that sweet, sweet product. Maybe they should just checkout now, you know?
3. Get their finger on the button (sometimes literally). One of the most obvious but least scientific parts of product page optimization is the buy button. What color is it? What does it say? Does it persist with scroll or is it static? We have a couple of rules when it comes to buttons:
- First rule: Mobile rules. For people on mobile phones, placing the buy button where it’s easy to click (literally right under their thumb) is an absolute must. Make the process effortless.
- Second rule: It’s not about color, it’s about contrast and consistency. Lots of people waste time trying to figure out what colors work best on their buttons, but it’s not always about that; it’s about creating high contrasts that draw the eye (and the cursor). It’s also about using the same pattern consistently so they don’t have to think about it or search for the right button; they should instantly recognize your button as the gateway to checkout. Just don’t use red unless it’s to communicate a warning or caution.
- Third rule: Test the language. Sometimes a boring button (“Add to Cart”) works great; it depends on your brand, your customer base and your products. Do yourself a favor a test different versions.
- Fourth rule: Use a visual analytics platform. Their software allows you to visualize how people interact with your site in a variety of ways. Heat maps show you where people are clicking and where they aren’t. By creating a variety of button styles and seeing which one attracts the most cursors, you can experiment your way to a powerful button and conversion lift.
4. Give yourself a second chance to make a first impression. On product pages, as in life, first impressions are everything. That’s particularly true if you’re using Google Shopping, where consumers are directed straight to your product pages. Doing business on the internet means you can give yourself a second (and third, and fourth, and fifth …) chance to make that impression. How?
- A/B test everything. A/B test every button, layout, color scheme and customer funnel before you make a final decision. The speed of e-commerce makes this kind of testing much more efficient than it would be in brick-and-mortar stores.
- User test regularly. We use usertesting.com, a company that allows us to watch (and listen) as shoppers navigate websites and check out on their product pages. When you watch someone interact with your site with fresh eyes, you quickly get clued in to all the little things you didn’t notice were hurting your page. Pro tip: Send the same users to your competitors (and don’t tell them which site is yours).
- Think like a shopper, and mind the fold. Familiarity breeds tunnel vision, and it’s often impossible to judge your product pages when you’re too close to them. One thing that online retailers consistently fail to think about is “the fold” — the artificial barrier at the bottom of a browser. If you have to scroll down to see important elements, you’ve failed.
5. Make it magnetic. Only a small minority of those who visit your product page will check out right then and there. However, there is a tremendous amount of value to be captured by turning your product pages into magnets for return visits and customer engagement. Here’s how:
- Try wish lists and "Save for Later" buttons. Amazon does a fantastic job of giving shoppers ways to interact meaningfully with its product pages without actually buying something. Wish lists and Save-for-Later buttons (Wayfair and Airbnb do a fantastic job with these, using a heart icon to invite users to save favorite products and rooms to wish boards) are a great way to bring people back to buy later.
- Ask and answer questions. Reach out to the shopper by offering them the chance to live chat or peruse frequently asked questions (or “Customers who viewed X also bought Y,” an excellent magnet developed on Amazon product pages).
- Let visitors give you real-time feedback on a product's price. Name Your Price, Price Match and Price Drop buttons are an emerging way to increase engagement metrics, get shoppers to stay on your site longer, return more often and ultimately buy something.
Andrew Scarbrough is the co-founder of PriceWaiter, an e-commerce widget that's helping retailers convert comparison shoppers by offering relevant product page calls to action.