Buyer Personas for eCommerce Customer Research

eCommerce Buyer Personas

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

August 24, 2017

A buyer persona (aka. user persona, customer persona) is an avatar that represents the aggregate of your target customers. The persona answers the questions: Who is my ideal customer? What do they want, in life, at work, at home? What do they need? What are they trying to accomplish? What goals drive their behavior? What are they looking for that I can provide?

These are the million-dollar questions for any business, because without these answers, you won’t achieve product-market fit.

For e-commerce businesses especially, having a thoroughly fleshed out buyer persona is vitally important, because it’s not enough to only understand what your customer needs and wants on the surface, you need to understand their entire psychology to create and sell your products effectively.

The difference is this.

Say you sell swimsuits.

You know your users are looking for “black swimsuit” because those are the keywords they’ve used to search for a product. That’s what they say they “want.”

But if you have a fleshed out buyer persona, you know that they want a black one-piece swimsuit that will stand out on the powdery white beaches of Cancun over Spring Break.

Or, they want a black one-piece swimsuit that’s totally retro and makes them feel like a Hollywood movie star of yesteryear.

Those are two very different audiences, with very different needs. But on the surface – they both want a black swimsuit.

eCommerce buyer personas - different personalities
eCommerce buyer personas – different personalities

Buyer personas are the foundation of every product you develop, every marketing campaign you create, and every word, image and color on your website. I hear you: “But I already know what my customer wants!” Sure you do. But does every person in your company have an equally crystal-clear picture of your target customer?

Try asking every person in your company to write down who they think your target customer is, what they think your target customer wants, and what that target customer needs.

Without a buyer persona to refer to, you’ll get as many answers as you have employees.

Buyer personas are as important as a rallying cry as they are to product and marketing efforts. And, even after the product, website and marketing are “finished,” you’ll need them again to optimize all of the above with A/B testing.

So let’s lay this foundation right.

The best way to create buyer personas

A swift search on the internet will uncover hundreds of articles telling you how to create a buyer persona – everyone has their own take on it. But if that take doesn’t begin with in-depth customer research, don’t buy it! The best way to create buyer personas – buyer personas that will give you actionable insights you can use immediately to make your product, website and marketing more effective, is to begin with a lot of research.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research is the first, and most important, step of the buyer persona research process, because this is where you actually speak with your real customers (or ideal prospects, if you use a survey or interview tool that gives you access to more people). This is also the scariest part of the process, because it’s where your beliefs about what you really know about your target customer are tested.

Take a page from Sherlock Holmes’ book and don’t go into these surveys or interviews trying to prove your pre existing theory. Let the evidence speak for itself.

With any method you choose for your qualitative research, you’ll want to ask questions that get to the heart of…

  • Behavioral drivers – what they want to achieve, why and how they found your business in the first place.
  • Concerns – what worries them? What information would they need to not be at all worried about purchasing your product?
  • Expectations – what expectations are they coming in with? What experience do they hope to have with your brand?

More optimization strategists are leaning away from building personas out of purely demographic information. As optimization strategist Dr. Fio Dossetto says, “I find that personas built around ‘standard’ data points, such as gender, age, etc. are usually very limited, and I’d much rather go for a behavioural approach which then allows me to think about practical, actionable solutions and recommendations.” He’s not alone in using a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to uncover behavioral patterns and underlying motivations.

Qualitative research tools:


  • SurveyMonkey – best for when you have an existing user base to ask (and it’s free, unless you want to survey their consumer panel).
  • AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) – lets you create surveys to send to both your own list and the AYTM panel of 4.5 million people (you choose targeting criteria).
  • Instantly – offers similar services with variations on how many people are in their panels, and how specific you can be with your targeting criteria.
  • Qualaroo – creates a single-question survey that pops up on your site at a designated time. Best for when you want to know why someone is leaving a product page or purchase page.

Best practices for successful surveys:

  1. Ask the easiest questions first.
  2. Group questions on the same topic together (to avoid confusion).
  3. If you’re asking a more involved question, place it towards the middle.
  4. Ask the most personal questions at the end.
  5. Be brief – only ask the most important questions and always give them the option to respond freely, in their own words.
  6. Be careful that the way you phrase your questions doesn’t lead to biased answers. For example:

“What do you like about ______?” pushes for a positive answer, when the truthful answer might be an emphatic “nothing! Ugh!”

Include questions like:

“What made you realize you needed a product like ours?”
“How does this product make your life better?”
“What do you wish you could find – or find more of?”
“Did you have any hesitations or worries about the product before you bought?” Followed up with: “What were they?”

And, include a question that tells you about them as a person, like asking about hobbies, pets, personal style, etc.


  • Email, phone or Skype – these don’t have to be high-tech if you have users willing to speak with you.
  • GutCheck lets you conduct 30-minute video interviews with its 3.5 million U.S. members. Choose age, income, and other criteria to make sure you’re talking to the right people.

Best practices for insightful interviews:

  1. Focus on a few key questions, like the ones recommended for surveys above.
  2. Don’t get hypothetical – talk about real past situations.
  3. Resist the temptation to talk about your product. Rather focus your questions on their problems and desires.
  4. Listen much more than you talk, and either record the call or take excellent notes.
  5. Follow up with a thank you via email, and invite the interviewee to share further thoughts if they have them – sometimes the best feedback takes a while to percolate.

One good way to get users to volunteer for surveys or interviews is to offer gift certificates in exchange for their time. This info is invaluable, so spending some money up front will be rewarded.


As you gather your qualitative responses, start segmenting them based on what they have in common. What are their common desires, pain points and concerns? What else do these people have in common – even characteristics that feel tangential, like their hobbies or favorite colors, or whether or not they own a dog. And, of course, there’s the basic demographic information like age, gender, household income, education level and geographic location, which may or may not be pertinent.

From here, we can begin to form a persona for each segment. To make each persona actionable, include:

  • What he or she cares about (values).
  • What he or she is concerned about.
  • What emotions and needs drive his or her behavior.
  • What his or her obstacles are to purchasing.
  • What his or her expectations are from a purchasing experience.

Notice we haven’t talked about adding a picture, a name, or a lengthy backstory. You can do these things, and it may help you to visualize your ideal customer in a more complete way. But the focus here is on actionable insights.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research is the numbers side of persona construction, because you need to know which segment actually delivers the highest revenue and lifetime value.

The two big questions to ask before beginning quantitative research are:

  1. How are you tracking customers?
  2. What type of segmentation system makes the most sense for your goals?

Google Analytics offers advanced segmentation features that let you create segments around average revenue per user, transactions per user, new versus repeat customers and frequent customers.

Using this information, you can quickly pull reports that reveal the segments with the highest odds of making a purchase (and repeat purchases).

The Audience tab will be your home base for most of this research. You’ll find your basic demographic information, like age and gender under Demographics: Overview. Click on Age, and you’ll see what numbers are associated with different age groups (sessions, time spent on site, pages visited, etc.). You’ll also see which age range converts most and produces the most revenue. Repeat the process for Gender.

Audience reports in Google Analytics we can use to create buyer personas
Audience reports in Google Analytics we can use to create buyer personas

Now, Google Analytics has access to even more information – like interests. But it’s a convoluted process to find this report. Click on one of the genders (the one that shows the highest revenue is generally the best place to start), and you’ll see an “Other Categories” report.

Look for the word “Other” in blue and click it to change to “Affinity Categories,” and click the green box that appears in the dropdown.

Here you’ll actually be able to see what your age (or gender) segment is interested in, including hobbies and media preferences.

Buyer personas - here is the table of results you get when you select Other
Buyer personas – here is the table of results you get when you select Other

Now, for e-commerce Google Analytics users, you can explore segments by other dimensions, like Product, Product Category, Product Brand or SKU to see the demographics behind your purchasing audience.

Quantitative data offers a tremendous amount of information, but without the qualitative research behind it, it doesn’t paint a complete picture of underlying motivations. You need both to create a fully functional persona.

Once you have your quantitative data and know which segments are the most lucrative, overlay that information on top of your qualitative data, and meet the real people behind those purchase decisions.

Now you can complete your persona.

What a fully functional buyer persona looks like

eCommerce buyer personas - profile
eCommerce buyer personas – profile

Base the following on what an ideal customer looks like for one of your customer segments.

An ideal customer is one who loves your product, is loyal to your brand, has a problem you’re uniquely able to solve, and is willing to pay (and refer their friends).

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Favorite product
  • Cares most about
  • Worries about
  • Wishes s/he had
  • Loves you because
  • Is motivated by
  • Expects you to
  • Is delighted when you…

(And any other pertinent information that might inform your marketing decisions, product development priorities and website design – things like favorite magazines can inform art direction, tracking can tell you which parts of the purchase process tend to become obstacles; use all of this information).

Now, not every conversion specialist is a fan of buyer personas – but they all use them in one way or another. Conversion Copywriter Joanna Wiebe, for example, says she isn’t a “persona fan,” but says “we write for our ‘one reader’ and get to know that reader well. It’s not a persona, per se.” Whatever system you use, the most important thing is to understand your target customer, and convey that understanding to everyone in your company in the clearest possible way.

Once you have your buyer persona – it’s time to optimize for him or her

When you have identified your target segments, you can then comb through your quantitative data and find which segments tend to gravitate towards certain products, which get lost or abandon carts, and where they run into trouble that bounces them off of your site (and onto a competitor’s!).

Now it’s time for Heuristic analysis – this is when you review your ad campaigns, landing pages, website pages and sales process to make sure everything is tailored to your personas.

And, of course, along with this analysis is the technical analysis, where you make sure everything in your sales funnel is actually functioning the way it should be. Sometimes the conversion problem is as simple as a broken link.

At the end of this process, you’ll not only understand your customers in a deeper, more actionable way than you ever have before, you’ll have a model for how to track them and measure how well you’re tailoring your experience to the persona you want.

And from there, the world of optimization is your oyster.

Let the A/B testing begin.

eCommerce Buyer Personas
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Using Customer Personas with Google Analytics to Get Ahead

A buyer persona (aka. user persona, customer persona) is an avatar that represents the aggregate of your target customers. The persona answers the questions: Who is my ideal customer? What do they want, in life, at work, at home? What do they need? What are they trying to accomplish? What goals drive their behavior? What are they looking for that I can provide?

3 Extremely Complicated Steps to a Customer Journey Map that Actually Works

Customer Journey Map

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

April 3, 2018

Customer journey maps have the potential to be the best tool your marketing department has – or a colossal waste of time. There are plenty of articles out there that will tell you how to build a customer journey map in “3 easy steps.” Those don’t work, at least not by our standards.

If your customer journey map isn’t moving you towards more conversions and awesome retention rates, it’s a waste of paper.

The way most people do customer journey maps looks like this: Bring your ‘best and brightest’ into a room for three hours, play “this is who we think our buyer personas are,” “this is what we think they’re feeling,” and follow it up with “these are where our touchpoints are.” In other words, it’s “brainstorming” with insufficient research. You’re not creating a map, you’re having an office party. And the customer journey map is the party game.


Do I sound harsh? Good. Because customer journey maps done wrong really burns my biscuits.

They have so much potential to be useful.

Actionable. Energizing. Even inspiring.

But to be truly useful, you have to approach them from the foundation of research, grounded in real, verifiable customer data. And that’s the step too many people miss, because it’s just not as much fun.

Forget fun – this is marketing strategy.

When a customer journey map does its job, it becomes a tool that lets you (and your marketing team) visualize your relationship with your target customer from first eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room encounter to mutually fulfilling partnership.

It shows the most likely places to meet your target, what they need there (depending on which stage of the sales funnel they’re in), what they get there currently, and where mismatches in expectations and desired outcomes may be losing them.

If this sounds like I’m describing more than just a customer journey map, you’re absolutely right.

This definition is much simpler:

“a customer journey map is merely an illustration or diagram of all the places (touchpoints) your customers come into contact with your company online or off.”

To make your journey map actionable, it can’t be merely an illustration of touchpoints. It has to illuminate the relationship, in its entirety. It has to pay attention to not only where prospects are, but what they need – and how to give that outcome to them in a way that moves them closer to your desired destination.

This journey map will become your visual cheat-sheet to understanding your customer on a deep, meaningful, actionable level.

It’s not simple. But there are three steps.

Step 1: You wouldn’t plan a road trip without research…

Research is where we always start; and if you’ve created your Buyer Persona (the right way) already, you’re mostly there. You’ll want to base persona research on your current ideal clients: Those who’ve bought from you, love what you do, and recommend you to their colleagues and friends.

The persona creation process answers these questions:

  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • What do they want, in life, at work, at home?
  • What do they need?
  • What are they trying to accomplish?
  • What goals drive their behavior?
  • What are they looking for that I can provide?

You’ll get those answers through qualitative research – voice of customer data – that gets to the heart of behavioral drivers, concerns and expectations.

Oh, did I forget to mention the standard demographic data points? Age, sex, marital status? No, I didn’t forget. They’re just not as important unless you’re selling Viagra. Focus on what matters for your customers.

Qualitative research can be done a number of ways, but each method has its limitations, which is why I recommend using several. Not just surveys, mining user reviews, or recording customer service chats and conversations – but those in addition to customer interviews whenever possible.

As Genuinely founder and CEO Mack Fogelson explains about their own customer journey development process:

“Most companies are making assumptions about their customers based on what they think they know vs. actually talking to their customers 1:1. Their maps then become an accumulation of biases and inferences vs. what their customers actually need.

What they’re missing is the underlying motivators that cannot be seen in demographic or psychographic data. Our customer journey maps open up the Thinking/Feeling/Doing in each stage of the customer journey, across the sales funnel.

Customer journey mapping requires you to actually speak with your customers. Not just digitally through surveys or other methods of collecting data. 1:1. Face-to-face.

Good customer journey mapping requires collection of all of the data you have about your *actual* customers, not just a stereotypical persona.” – Mack Fogelson, Founder & CEO,

Whichever method you use, when questioning current customers (always a good place to start), ask about early stage touchpoints they experienced, with questions like:

  • Where did you first see our brand? (And give them options, depending on where you’ve placed advertisements)
  • When you first saw our ad, what did you think we could do for you? (Open ended question)
  • What initially prompted you to visit our website? (this is where you’ll uncover potential influencers and other touchpoints you might not even be aware of)

And any other questions you can think of that will give you an idea of not only where they first find you, but also what they want when they do.

We’re pulling double duty here. It’s not just about finding the “where” but also the “why?”

We also want to start to piece together a timeline that takes us from that first touch point to first conversion. This may be difficult for people to answer (memories just aren’t that good), but to get a ballpark answer, ask:

  • “How long did it take you from first seeing our brand to making your first purchase?”

You may want to give them a multiple-choice response option and a free response option, just in case they’re kind enough to expand on exactly what their journey looked like.

But this is asking a lot. If you’re going to ask your customers to take this much time with you, you’d better offer them something good as incentive.

From this research, you can build out your buyer persona into a genuinely useful tool that points you in productive directions for future marketing decisions. And from there, you can widen the scope of your research to people who fit within your target parameters. Cubeyou is particularly good for finding early touchpoint opportunities (ie. where specific consumer demographics hang out – including what they read, watch and do in their spare time).

Using all of this information, you can begin to place markers on your map.

“Customer journey maps get a bad rap, much like personas. That’s unfortunate because when done properly, they can be very enlightening in terms of your customers’ needs and pains. Journey mapping helps articulate information in a simple, memorable way so that everyone is on the same page about: customer goals and expectations, customer experiences, optimization opportunities, and internal ownership.

When proper research is conducted (the narrative needs to be fact, not fiction), having up-to-date customer journey maps for your various experiences can be useful, especially for large companies. It’s meaningful to visually map out phases of the buying cycle, emotions, touchpoints, channels, etc. along each journey.

That said, be aware that linear funnels are idealistic. Most customer journeys are much more complex and, well, messy. Be sure you’re mapping accurate journeys instead of your idealistic linear funnel.

Overall, customer journey maps range from helpful to totally useless, depending on how data-driven and realistic you are.” – Shanelle Mullin, Shopify

Qualitative research tools for you to consider:

Step 2: Charting the course to conversion

We’re going to start our chart with a goal: Move the customer down the sales funnel. No, we’re not mixing metaphors (map? Funnel? What?), because we’re using both at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to add dimensions to your customer journey – it can make it an even more useful tool. Georgiana Laudi, Digital Strategist says she adds KPIs at each stage, and doesn’t stop there:

“At Unbounce, I reorganized the entire department to match our customer’s journey, and called it the Customer Journey Tribe. It’s not something usually done in marketing, but it’s a popular approach for structuring dev teams.”

And, from my Customer Success perspective, I’d also recommend adding Customer Success milestones, so you know exactly where, when and how prospects and customers are finding value with your brand (yes, Customer Success is typically associated with SaaS, but believe me, e-commerce customers have to be successful too!).

But let’s not overthink this right now. Let’s just start by drawing your map in the shape of a funnel.

e-Commerce Customer Journey Map
e-Commerce Customer Journey Map

This is, clearly, simplified for the sake of explanation. But what you see is a customer journey map with touchpoints overlaid onto your typical sales funnel.

The Target Customer doesn’t know who you are, until they reach a touchpoint – but because you’ve done your Buyer Persona research, you already know what they want and need (maybe even before they do). This gives you the power to make that first touch point count by making them problem-aware (at the earliest stage) or solution-aware (their pain can be fixed!).

That first touchpoint might be an ad on Facebook, a banner ad on their favorite niche blog, the recommendation of a brand advocate or influencer, etc. Some of those you have direct control over, like ads. Others you have indirect control over, like providing great user experiences to guarantee yourself positive recommendations from your customers on user review sites.

The target customer then becomes a prospect. They’re interested. You’ve given them a reason to think that you can provide what they’ve been wanting, searching for. They come to your website – the next touchpoint possibly – and what do they find there?

Hopefully something that brings them closer to their ideal outcome.

If you’re an e-commerce site selling wine, maybe that’s a quiz they can take that leads them to wines they’d most likely love (BrightCellars does this brilliantly).

e-Commerce Customer Journey Map - BrighCellars
e-Commerce Customer Journey Map – BrighCellars

In fact, quizzes are a great way to immediately raise engagement, and it can be as simple as having the lead fill in their measurements and filtering results by what clothes will fit best. Use your imagination!

This touchpoint is very important. They may have heard of you before, but this is where they finally meet you and form a strong impression. That impression either bounces them off the page, or leads them further down the funnel towards conversion.

At each of these stages, using your customer research, chart:

  • What they know (ie. what funnel stage they’re in).
  • What they want (ideal outcome).
  • How to bring them closer to that ideal outcome using the touchpoint you have.

“For me, it’s about identifying my customer’s motivations, desires and intent and using that knowledge to build a better customer journey. I use_their_words, I optimize the colors, font, copy, images and entire content according to what I learn from customer interviews, surveys and emotional targeting research (emotional SWOT, customer awareness mapping, competitor research, etc.)” – Talia Wolf, GetUpLift

Your customer journey map can also show you where problems in your funnel are happening – because problems tend to happen around touchpoints.

If you find that customers are falling “off the map” around a specific touchpoint, it’s time to bring out the customer journey map again to help you find the reason why.

  • Perhaps they’re dropping out during the post-opt-in email campaign.
  • Or, perhaps you notice that your website pageviews are high, but as soon as they find your product page, they bounce out.
  • Or it could be that they do buy, they convert, but then they call your customer support and never buy from you again.

The question becomes: What aren’t they getting – that they need – to move down the funnel?

And this is where conversion optimization practices like customer surveys, UX research and A/B testing can really help to demystify the situation.

Step 3: Confirm your hypotheses

Even with research, your customer journey map is really a series of educated guesses – aka. hypotheses. And hypotheses are made to be tested.

Once you have your map, you’ll start finding potential opportunities to optimize experiences at each touch point. And this is where you can confirm your guesses about your user, and about what will move your user, with A/B or multivariate testing.

And that’s a whole other post – or five – which you can read here.

Learn more about A/B testing.

Conclusion: Customer journey maps are great – unless they aren’t

Customer journey maps, when done well, serve multiple functions. They:

  • Empower you to identify and understand customer needs, so you can improve customer service, experience and UX.
  • Save money on touchpoints/ads that don’t work, and show you where to spend money on touchpoints that work best.
  • Unearth opportunities to differentiate products.
  • Increase conversions drastically.
  • Improve retention and build your brand reputation (because customers are getting what they need).
  • Create brand advocates who create even more touchpoints and conversions!

But when we talk about customer journey maps, we have to acknowledge that most aren’t used this way.

Too many customer journey maps (and their respective “How to” articles) focus more on what the company wants customers to do, rather than on helping customers achieve their ideal outcomes (even if that ideal outcome is finding a gorgeous prom dress that makes a 17-year-old feel like Cinderella). They tend to be too focused on acquisition, and not enough on retention (did you notice how my sample funnel went beyond conversion? Brand advocacy and retention is important for every business!). Essentially, they’re focused on the company’s success, and not the customer’s.

I come from a Customer Success background. I believe that if you lead the customer towards achieving their ideal outcome, and don’t disappoint on delivery, you will win their loyalty.

To do that, of course, you have to know your customer really well.

And that’s not nearly as simple as “X marks the spot.”

Customer Journey Map

e-Commerce customer journey maps have the potential to be the best tool your marketing department has – or a colossal waste of time. There are plenty of articles out there that will tell you how to build a customer journey map in “3 easy steps.” Those don’t work, at least not by my standards. If your customer journey map isn’t moving you towards more conversions and awesome retention rates, it’s a waste of paper.

E-Commerce Conversion Psychology How-to Guide

How to Increase Conversion with Psychology

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

June 8, 2017

The mind is a terrible thing to waste – as a conversion rate expert. E-Commerce conversion psychology & buyer psychology guides everything that we do. You might even say that CROs and shrinks share the same goal: Both seek to understand the human mind to help them find solutions to their problems.

But, of course, we want more than that. We want them to pay for those solutions. And that presents a few psychological hurdles. The act of selling something requires the customer to give up something they value – whether that’s time, personal information, or actual money (which also means the time it takes to acquire it). That’s asking a lot.

You’ll encounter resistance.

And any little thing that makes it harder to purchase will lose you a sale, because they’re already resisting. This means that your job as CRO is both to remove friction, and appeal to your audience’s strongest motivators:

  • Pain
  • Anchoring (+ Placement Psychology)
  • Emotional & Cognitive Needs
  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment/Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity (+ Loss Aversion)

If those last six look familiar, it’s because they’re Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence, and we’ll be discussing them as they relate to CRO in depth, with actionable takeaways.

All Pain is Emotional

Marketers understand pain points as they affect buyer behavior; but let’s look at pain from the perspective of neuroscience for a moment.

Pain isn’t actually a physical sensation. Yes, if you grab a hot cookie sheet straight from the oven, you will feel pain (and it will feel very physical), but that sensation of “HOT!” is processed in the limbic system – not your hand. The limbic system is also where we process emotions. If you were to remove the limbic system, you wouldn’t perceive feeling hurt, though you would register an injury.

What implications does this have for conversion rate optimization?

If the pain point isn’t emotional – and strongly so – people don’t have enough reason to act.

Fun fact: Focusing attention on pain actually makes that pain feel worse. Watching this Dove ad actually made me get up for a glass of water:

Takeaways: It’s the emotional component of pain that is the most compelling – that’s what gets people to act. Increasing the pain (or at least the perception of it) by bringing attention to it in your content will also encourage users to act.


Have you noticed that if you walk into a shop and see several things you like, the first item you saw is often the one you walk out with? I do this all the time, and you probably do too. In 1974, cognitive psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky gave this phenomenon a name: the “anchoring heuristic.” Human beings tend to place more importance on the first piece of information we receive than subsequent data when making a decision. It’s a cognitive bias, a mental shortcut, we use to make decisions faster and easier.

For CRO, this means that if your product (or ad) is the first your user encounters, that becomes the context for the rest of their decision. If you’re looking to buy a mattress, and the first recommendation you hear is for Tuft & Needle, that is the brand against which you will compare every other mattress (increasing the odds that you’ll ultimately decide on Tuft & Needle in the end).

You can even use this in your pricing on sales pages to make users feel they’re getting a better deal. Make the first price people see high – then discount it.

When Steve Jobs announced the price for the iPad, he used this technique in his presentation.

e-Commerce Conversion Psychology - Anchoring Heuristic
e-Commerce Conversion Psychology – Anchoring Heuristic

On a web page – home page, product page, or landing page – we can also use this idea to our advantage when we decide where to place our CTA buttons. A 2014 eye-tracking study using heat maps revealed that the eye is drawn to two places on a page: The upper left corner and the center of the page. You’ll see pop-up ads in the center of the page for that very reason; they’re impossible to miss. But also notice the placement of the CTA buttons.

e-Commerce Conversion Psychology CTA Buttons
e-Commerce Conversion Psychology CTA Buttons

If there is more than one option, the most important CTA (to the business) is placed on top and is the first option users will see. Many users won’t even glance at the second option if the first one will do the job, and even if they do, their idea of which CTA to choose is already anchored. Instagram, for example, gets more value from gaining access to users’ Facebook information than their email address, so that option is the first one they want users to see.

Takeaway: The first thing people see, whether it’s a product or price, is an anchor point for their decision-making process. You may not be able to control whether you’re the first solution that reaches your target audience, but once they’re on your page, you can control what they see – and in what order – from there. Use it!

Emotional & Cognitive Needs

Psychology, as applied to CRO, depends on one foundational action: Accurately identifying your target audience, and their primary, action-driving needs.

Conversion expert Talia Wolf increased one of her client’s revenues by 86%, just by correctly identifying the target audience and finding out what they wanted most – then designing the experience accordingly. Talia, incidentally, also teaches an online Masterclass titled “Emotion Sells.

“Using psychological principles and the emotional targeting methodology has helped me better understand who my client’s customers are, what motivates them, and what drives their decision making processes, so I can, in turn, create better customer experiences that generate 20X more engagements, sales and revenues.

While working on the fashion E-commerce site below, our research revealed we had two main target audiences, each with different emotional needs.

e-Commerce Conversion Psychology Emotional Targeting
e-Commerce Conversion Psychology Emotional Targeting

The first target audience was teenage girls shopping for their prom dresses, hoping to feel admired and more confident. The other audience was the mothers who were paying for these dresses. Our research showed they primarily wanted to feel safe shopping on the site and confident about the site being appropriate for their daughters.

Thanks to those insights we were able to create a completely new variation using images, color and content that reflected those emotions. Using color psychology, along with other changes based on our understanding of what the target audience was looking for, we increased their revenues by 86%.

The resulting website was a lot more…pink. A design choice made on purpose. Talia says “We introduced the color pink to project calm, hopeful and positive feelings towards shopping prom dresses online. The color pink was introduced to more than just the banner or background; the images on the page were given a pink hue” – to produce more positive emotions in mothers and daughters. Read more about color psychology.

e-Commerce Conversion Psychology - Colors
e-Commerce Conversion Psychology – Colors

As for cognitive needs, Shannelle Mullin, Content & Growth at ConversionXL, says “cognitive load” is a vitally important psychological factor to keep in mind (no pun intended).

“Cognitive load is, essentially, the amount of mental effort being used in the working memory. When that effort is excessive, you end up with cognitive overload.

Overload means our brains are unable to retain new information or draw connections from previous memories. As a result, ability to learn deteriorates and ability to understand plummets.

As an optimizer, it’s your responsibility to ensure UX serves to reduce or, at least, not add to cognitive load.

Even studies from 20 years ago showed that the amount of information the human brain is asked to process each day is high. Undoubtedly, that has increased significantly with the rise of smartphones, Internet connectivity, push notifications, etc.

Here’s how you can spare your visitors from an even higher cognitive load…

  1. Make your UX truly intuitive so that instructions aren’t necessary. If they are, at least reduce them as much as possible.

  2. Stick to deep-rooted design and UX prototypes.

  3. Provide what’s necessary and nothing more.

  4. Look for stylistic inconsistencies that could be confusing (e.g. visitors think something is clickable when it’s not).

  5. Avoid subtlety and ambiguity. Clarity is always better, especially when it comes to navigation, visual cues, etc.

  6. Audit your site to identify what’s adding to cognitive load.

When optimizing a site for conversion, it’s easy to try and do all the things – incorporate every strategy, implement every idea. But Shanelle Mullin reminds us to keep it simple, because simplicity is a very real psychological need too.

Takeaways: Knowing who your target audience is, isn’t enough. You have to understand what they need to get from the transaction, emotionally. But don’t clutter. Keep your site simple and clean, or risk overloading your viewer.

Cialdini’s Principle of Reciprocity

Do you make a beeline for the back of the store at Costco? I do. That’s where those delicious samples are. Free samples are delightful things, but stores don’t offer them out of sheer good will. When you get something for free, you feel obligated to reciprocate in some way. Often, that’s by buying the product.
Reciprocity is Robert Cialdini’s first principle of persuasion – human beings are hardwired to pay their debts.

In e-Commerce, a free sample can mean anything from free (valuable) content, like blogs or guides, or even how-to videos, to actual free samples. The principle is the same: Give something of value (and it must be of genuine value – you can’t waste peoples’ time or make them feel cheated), and you’ll get something of value: conversions.

Takeaway: Find something you can give away for free, whether that be valuable information (on your blog) or sample products. Try sending samples to brand promoters (your best customers, people who love you and say so on social media and review sites – often bloggers, or highly active reviewers). If you don’t want to give ‘freebies,’ then offer discounts. You’ll reap the rewards – good karma pays back.

Cialdini’s Principle of Commitment/Consistency

Did you know that you have a much higher chance of actually sticking with a New Year’s resolution if you share it publicly? People have a deep desire to appear to be consistent. If they say they’re going to do something, by golly, they’ll do it.

But this need to be consistent runs even deeper. People want their actions to be consistent with their beliefs and values, which means if they have a choice to buy from a store that espouses similar values versus a store that doesn’t (even if that store is cheaper), they’ll be drawn to the first one.

And, here’s the crazy thing about consistency. It can also be purely subconscious. If you can get a site visitor to say “yes” to doing something small, like downloading a free guide or signing up for your newsletter, they’ll be more inclined to keep saying “yes” to each additional thing you ask of them. The more “yesses” they accrue, the more likely they’ll continue to opt in – and to buy.

ConversionVoodoo put this to the test by including a “commitment checkbox” on the front page of a client’s website. All it said was “Yes! I am ready for a better rate today!” That checkbox alone resulted in an 11% increase in completed applications.

Takeaway: That first easy opt-in is the foundation of customer loyalty. Get them saying “yes” early and often with low-threshold, low friction requests that benefit them. You’re essentially training users that saying “yes” to you is a positive experience (which is why it’s important to always reward the “yes” response with high-quality, genuinely useful content).

Cialdini’s Principle of Social Proof

Why do Yelp! reviews have such impact? Why do e-commerce stores sell more when they post user reviews on the sales page? Why does a recommendation from a friend mean more than all of the above? Social Proof. When we see other people talking about a product – even if they’re not expressly praising it – we, as buyers, are put at ease. It’s a primal urge to follow the trail that has already been blazed.

That’s right – user reviews don’t even have to be positive to have a positive impact on your conversion rates. Though, of course, they shouldn’t be overwhelmingly negative.

Social Proof reduces purchase anxiety – the fear that a product won’t live up to expectations, or that the purchaser is going to be cheated in some way.

What you don’t want when leveraging social proof, is proof that people aren’t doing what you want them to do. If your copy reads something like, “98% of writers surveyed said they forgot a great idea before they could write it down – don’t miss your next great idea, buy our pocket-sized notebook!”

You’ve just said the vast majority of your target audience doesn’t have a notebook, as you’re trying to sell them a notebook. You assumed that by showing the missed opportunity, you’d leverage loss aversion. But it just doesn’t work that way with Social Proof. What the majority does, other people will follow.

In Yes! By psychologists Noah J. Goldstein and Steve J. Martin, they tested three signs asking people not to remove petrified wood from the Arizona Petrified Forest. One of the signs showed negative social proof:

“Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, destroying the natural state of the Petrified Forest.”

The result: It tripled theft.

Takeaway: Use social proof – user reviews, testimonials, user social media mentions and photographs, on product pages to reduce purchase anxiety. And don’t censor the negative ones (you’ll build more trust in your brand by leaving them there).

Cialdini’s Principle of Authority

Just like people follow other people (social proof), they also follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. It’s why so many business owners aren’t just running their businesses, but working to become “thought leaders” in their fields.

Business owners can become authority figures, but they can also “outsource” it by leveraging people who are already authority figures. Not that you have to pay Kim Kardashian $700,000 to take selfies in front of your logo. But you can find authorities who, for the price of a sample product or a moderate sum, will share your product with their established audiences.

L’Oreal regularly endorses bloggers and vloggers to publicly use and talk about their products, like this Youtube video with Pin-up model and YouTube star Cherry Dollface.

Don’t have celebrity connections? No worries! Your current customers might be authorities already. Customer advocacy programs aim to leverage the people who already love a brand by incentivizing them to share it with their friends and colleagues.

Takeaway: Find people who have authority with your target audience and give them reasons to talk about your product. This can be expensive, cheap, or free, depending on who you ask, but it’s always worthwhile. Bonus points if the authority figure publishes a photo of them actually using your product.

Cialdini’s Principle of Liking

This one couldn’t be simpler or more intuitive:

People buy from people they like.

And, people tend to like people who are like them.

The challenge for conversion is to establish likeability in your brand, which you do primarily through design and the voice/tone used in your content, marketing and branding. Even the images you choose, the models on your product pages for example, should remind the target audience of themselves.

One excellent boutique clothing company nearly lost my business because they didn’t have a single picture of their clothing on a model above a size-zero. The brand wasn’t likeable or relatable, and I couldn’t picture myself in their clothing because no one looked like me. I still bought the dress though (purely because of social proof – they had great reviews from people of all sizes).

Takeaway: Build out your buyer persona so you really understand who they are, what they look like, and how they speak and relate to each other. Then, model your visual and written content around them. You’ll feel familiar and become more likeable, increasing conversions.

Cialdini’s Principle of Scarcity – and how this works with Loss Aversion

Cialdini’s Principle of Scarcity can be summed up with: “Now! For a limited time only!”

When something isn’t going to last, we jump at it – we don’t want to lose the opportunity. That instinct is embedded in us as Loss Aversion.

Loss Aversion works like this:

If you find $20 in an old coat pocket, you’re pretty pleased – for a moment. But it doesn’t light up your day, most likely. But lose $20 – and it might wreck your day. This is loss aversion. We react more strongly to loss (it feels worse) than we do to gains (they feel good, but not as good as losing feels bad).

Consequently, people will do more to avoid loss than they will for a gain.

An integral part of Loss is feeling ownership, so simply by making your customers feel like they already own an item, they’ll be less inclined to let it go. It’s one reason why Free Trials are so successful. But, if your product doesn’t work well with the free trial system, there’s another way to foster feelings of ownership – “Buy within the next 15 minutes for a Free Gift with Purchase.” That way, they’ve got the gift (at least in their minds) and will lose it if they don’t complete the purchase quickly.

Here are a few more ways to use scarcity and loss aversion in your e-commerce site:

  • Limited stock: Display stock availability on your product pages (and in your shopping cart) so customers realize there is a limited supply, and they’d better act fast.
  • Limited Time: Ticket purchasing sites are famous for requiring users to complete the purchase process within a very short time-frame (you’d better have that credit card in front of you, or you’ll lose out). It’s a powerful motivator.
  • Free shipping for orders above a certain price: No one wants to miss out on free shipping, and it’s one of the best tools e-commerce sites have to boost sales. Display free shipping information together with the minimum purchase amount required to get it.

Tiffany DaSilva, Growth Hacker and Digital Marketing Consultant, uses urgency along with dynamic product ads for retargeting and abandoned cart emails, for great results:

“There are two things that seem to always improve ecommerce conversion rates for companies I work with and myself personally: Dynamic Product Ads for Retargeting & Abandoned Cart Emails.

Using retargeting ads that show the product I’ve viewed or added to cart on a website on Facebook is the best reminder. It doesn’t feel pushy and it seems to break through the noise quite well. Adding psychological triggers on top of that, like asking me back before a sale ends, or even a “Hurry back” in the ad’s copy, always gives me that feeling of urgency, even if it’s subconscious.

The same urgency triggers can be used with abandoned cart emails. Offering 15% or $10 off to come back within a certain period (24 hours let’s say) and resume their shopping cart experience is a simple way to retain a potential customer. If you think they need a lot of coaxing, adding social proof to those abandoned cart emails in the form of testimonials and celebrity endorsements is a great way to continue to convince the user to convert.

The use of retargeting and abandoned cart emails are essential tactics in any ecommerce digital marketing strategy, but psychological triggers like urgency + social proof are really what makes them successful.”

Takeaways: Creating scarcity is as easy as offering coupons that expire, or offering limited-time deals. Modcloth is a master at this. They run a “12 Days of Deals & Delights” in December in which each day contains one deal, like a 30% discount on all outerwear. But they don’t stop there – they sweeten the deal with a “Free Exclusive Travel Set” (while supplies last). Scarcity + scarcity = big wins.

e-Commerce Conversion Psychology - Scarcity
e-Commerce Conversion Psychology – Scarcity

These psychological principles aren’t new; they’re as old as the human mind. But what is new, and what allows for a great deal of innovation, is how to apply them in fresh, pleasing ways to CRO in e-commerce. The fun begins when you use these psychological principles to inspire creative solutions to age-old problems.

How to Increase Conversion with Psychology

Buyer psychology guides everything that we do. You might even say that CROs and shrinks share the same goal: Both seek to understand the human mind to help them find solutions to their problems. But, of course, we want more than that. We want them to pay for those solutions. And that presents a few psychological hurdles.

How to Build a High Converting e-Commerce Checkout Flow

How to Build a High Converting e-Commerce Checkout Flow

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

May 5, 2017

Optimizing the e-commerce checkout flow – everything that happens between “add to cart” and the purchase confirmation page – is a science. A science that requires research, study, and of course, testing.

But you’ve got a credit card payment system. Isn’t that enough?

Not if your customers are abandoning their shopping carts. That means you’re hemorrhaging sales from already-motivated customers, often unnecessarily.

Even small gains in optimizing checkout flows can have a big impact:

“An Ecommerce site that I analyzed recently had a payment page where 84.71% of the traffic proceeded to buy. I calculated that if we can increase that to 90%, that would result in 461 more orders and additional $87,175/month. That would be 23.94% growth in revenue. So yes – “small” gains here can be very big.” – Peep Laja, ConversionXL

What is shopping cart / checkout flow?

Shopping cart, e-commerce checkout flow, checkout funnel – whatever term you use, we’re talking about the moment your customer views their cart all the way until they see the “thank you” page at the end of their purchase process. Don’t confuse this with the “sales funnel,” that can begin long before the customer even lands on your website. Checkout flow is the final step.

The customer knows what they want.

They’ve added the product to the cart.

Then, they have two choices: Abandon the cart, or complete the purchase.

You’d be amazed how many motivated customers abandon the cart – or maybe you wouldn’t be. Maybe they’re abandoning your shopping cart and you’re wondering why.

Sample e-Commerce Shopping Cart Flow
Sample e-Commerce Shopping Cart Flow

Typical conversion issues

The object of the game is to get more people to complete the purchase process. To do that, we have to look at what could be causing cart abandonment, and the possible causes are legion.

Some CROs explain the core issue using the Fogg behavior model, an equation that looks like this:

Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger

Essentially, the more motivated the buyer is, and the easier it is to complete the action, the more likely the buyer is to complete the action. Makes sense, right? Conversely, as motivation decreases and difficulty increases (ie. something prevents them from being able to complete the steps), the fewer conversions you’ll see.

In practice, I’ll tell you what this looks like at my house.

I see the thing I want on a website. I add it to cart. I don’t see PayPal *anywhere* which means I need to run across the house, dig around in my purse for my wallet, pry out my credit card, run back, enter the long string of numbers, and finally complete the purchase process.

You don’t want to know how many carts I’ve abandoned because of that long hallway between me and my credit card. Yes, I’m that lazy. And yes, your customers are too.

All friction can basically be traced back to the Fogg behavior equation, but let’s look at the specific causes of friction commonly found in e-commerce checkout processes.

Friction Points

  • Price is different/higher than expected once shipping and tax is added in. This is a nasty surprise for the would-be purchaser, causing them to exit the cart.
  • The “sale” you promoted, that seemed like it applied store-wide, doesn’t apply to everything, which feels like a bait and switch.
Friction Point issue for e-Commerce Checkout Flow
Friction Point issue for e-Commerce Checkout Flow
  • The website doesn’t look professional, or hasn’t been updated in 20 years. This makes people nervous.
  • Images don’t look professional, or look like general stock images.
  • There are no user reviews or testimonials – ie. no social proof that the product is any good, or that your service is good. This makes people very nervous.
  • You have no trust badges – no security seals, no Better Business Bureau badge, etc. According to ConversionXL research, the Paypal badge is more trusted than McAfee, Norton, SiteLock, BBB or Google (though those are all good to have).
    You don’t state your privacy policy – how are you using their information exactly? Are you sharing it with third parties? Are you selling it? No? Say so!
  • Your return policy is absent or unclear. People want to know what happens if the product doesn’t work out, or arrives after having been trampled by elephantine FedEx employees.
  • You don’t display contact information – nothing that tells customers “this is a real business, you can hunt us down if we don’t deliver on our promises.”

All of these are serious credibility issues that kill conversions. They’re also very easy to fix.

However, there’s another class of conversion killers that have more to do with usability.

UX Friction

  • You don’t have a “wishlist” feature on your site, so if customers want to save a product to buy later, they put it in their cart instead – which looks like they’re “abandoning,” when they’re really just saving it for later.
  • It’s not clear what’s in the cart, how many of each item is in the cart, or how much products will cost with shopping and taxes.
  • It’s not clear how to make changes, like updating quantity or removing products.
  • It’s not clear how or when the user should input their discount/sale code. The more pages it takes to find the discount code box, the more nervous your user will be, and the more likely to bail.
  • The “Continue Checkout” button gets lost in the rest of the page. Again, the issue is clarity.You don’t clearly list the forms of payment you accept.
  • You don’t offer the user’s preferred way to pay, like Paypal, Visa, or American Express, etc.

If it’s still not clear – CLARITY is the key to conversion. People like to know what to expect, and they really like it when what they expect actually happens. Do that and you’ve cracked the code. But, as they say, if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Let’s look at how one of my favorite e-commerce stores does it. Modcloth.

A Pictorial Case Study of a Fun – and Functional – e-Commerce Checkout Flow

e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow
e-Commerce Checkout Flow

I’m not saying Modcloth does *everything* right. In fact, I’d recommend they make their “Apply a Discount” CTA larger and clearer on their first cart page. But for the most part, they go above and beyond to deliver a purchasing experience that answers all the questions, feels secure, and is as frictionless as possible.

Shortlist of best practices for a successful shopping experience

  • No surprises. Don’t even take the customer to another page once they’ve added a product to their cart, because that’s not what the ‘add to cart’ button is for. No. Surprises.
  • Make your checkout process as short as possible. Every second, every page, and every click counts.
  • Clarity is your first goal, from the moment they add an item to the cart to the can’t-miss confirmation page that includes simple next steps for what to expect.
  • Include trust-builders on your product pages and your cart pages, like user reviews, number of people also currently viewing the product (social proof), security seals, privacy policies, return policies, warranty information, and contact information for your business – including address.
  • Tell shoppers an approximate shipping time, and offer to send a tracking number when one becomes available.
  • Include a shipping and tax calculator on your product pages, not just cart pages. Often, people only add a product to the cart so they can see the actual price once shipping and tax is included. This will weed out the lookie-loos.

Optimizing for a frictionless process (or as close to it as possible)

Conversion rate optimization for the shopping cart process is all about making it clear, and making it fast. Begin by testing how long each step of the buying experience takes, from the time a customer lands on your website to when the purchase confirmation page. Your conversion issue might not be in the cart – it might be that it takes too long to get to the cart. You’ll want to eliminate the possibility first (and uncover other possible points of friction along the way).

From there, make a list of hypotheses about what might be creating friction throughout your checkout flow, page by page, item by item, button by button. These hypotheses shouldn’t just come from your CRO, CEO, or web design team – ask your customers. Ask your friends. Ask strangers if everything is clear, and if there is any part of the process that is harder than it should be.

Then you can A/B test and create a shopping cart that doesn’t get abandoned – at least, not by your target customers.

How to Build a High Converting e-Commerce Checkout Flow

Optimizing the e-commerce checkout flow – everything that happens between “add to cart” and the purchase confirmation page – is a science. A science that requires research, study, and of course, testing.

5 Easy Upgrades to Increase Landing Page Conversions

5 Easy Upgrades to Increase Landing Page Conversions

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

April 27, 2017

Writing and designing a conversion-powerhouse of a landing page is a science – a shifty, constantly evolving science that is, frankly, hard to pin down. While trends in landing page design may change (and they do), there are a few basic tenets that the most successful ones share that can increase landing page conversions. And they’re not difficult to implement. 

You can boost your conversion rates right now, just by putting these 5 basic techniques into place.

Don’t believe me?

We can test it.

Where Landing Pages Go Wrong

Landing pages go wrong primarily because people treat them like:

  • They’re product descriptions (they aren’t)
  • They’re blog posts (they aren’t)
  • They’re white papers (they aren’t)
  • They’re a diner waitress, whose personal motto is “Here’s your lunch. You’ll eat it and you’ll like it.” (they really aren’t)

A landing page is specifically designed for a marketing campaign. Its purpose is to convert leads – that’s it. One purpose, one message. Lets repeat again the purpose – increase landing page conversions.

Think I’m kidding? Landing pages with multiple offers get 266% fewer leads than single offer pages.

When to use a Landing Page

You’ll want to use a landing page (rather than a product page) for each marketing campaign you do – it’s all about getting the customer to engage with your brand.

Three Types of Landing Pages

  1. Lead capturing landing page: On this type of landing page, customer engagement happens as a result of collecting email addresses of potential leads, in return for something valuable.


  • Free video tutorial on something related to your product. For example, if you sell orchid pots, your video could be how to get an orchid to re-bloom (a major pain point for orchid lovers)
  • Promotional offer
  • Event signup, like a free webinar
  • Newsletter signup
  • Entry into a contest
  1. Click-through landing page: This landing page is a page between your ad and your shopping cart, directing the visitor straight to purchase. Unlike a product page, which can have a few options, like “save for later” and “move to wish list,” this landing page has one job: To make the sale.
  2. Thank you landing page: This is the landing page users find when they submit a form, opt-in, or buy. Don’t think of this page as the “end” of the process – it can be a great conversion tool.

Upgrade #1: Simplify

This is true for every landing page: It has one message, and one specific purpose.

But that’s not all that should be simple about your landing page. Your landing page will convert best when what you’re asking of users is simple too.

Think about the simplest, smallest, easiest step you can ask them to take (towards becoming a customer). Which step that is depends on how you typically reach customers best. That might be through:

  • Your email list (see Upgrade #2) – ask them to join
  • Your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) – ask them to follow
  • Your video channel – ask them to watch
  • Your sales and deals – ask them to sign up for notifications

Why this works: People love doing something easy to get something they want. The lower your bar for opting in, the more conversions you’ll get.

Upgrade #2: Get that email

Did you know that e-mail is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined? Each email address you collect is a lead to whom you can now send targeted email campaigns. It’s well worth the price of a giveaway, like BrilliantEarth has done.


Why this works: Just like with the first upgrade, this works because it’s so easy to do. That will get you that first conversion. But why this *really* works is that it allows you to start planning lead-nurturing email campaigns, like announcing sales, specials, and limited-time offers.

Upgrade #3: Have your customers segment themselves

Simplicity is always a winner, but if your offer is strong enough, you can ask for a little more information from your visitors. The rule of thumb is: The more you offer, the more you can ask for.

What should you ask for?

Information that lets you automatically segment your customers into groups.

In the BrilliantEarth example above, that would mean adding on a drop-down menu question, like:

I’m interested in jewelry for…

  • Presents for myself
  • Presents for my significant other
  • Presents for my bridesmaids
  • Popping the question!

Using that information, you can then send emails targeted specifically at those groups. Those emails will be more specific, more relevant, and far more effective than mass mailings.

Upgrade #4: Develop the very best header (Clickthrough landing page type)

The Clickthrough landing page type is the hardest to pull off, because you are asking a lot. You’re asking them to decide now to invest their time and/or money into your product. This is where we can bring pain and pleasure.

No, this isn’t 50 Shades of Landing Pages.

The argument for painful copy: Pain pushes us to act and react. That’s its purpose. Put your hand on a hot burner, and you’ll act very fast, because it hurts very much. The more something hurts, the faster we move to remedy the situation. This totally works on landing pages.

Did you know that focusing on pain actually makes it feel worse? We can use that. Joanna Wiebe uses this principle frequently in her copy, starting with a lengthy description of the primary pain point, and digging in to how bad it feels.

You’ll need to provide sufficient copy to tap into the visitors’ motivation for coming, and amplify that motivation so they take your desired action.” – Joanna Wiebe, CopyHackers

What this looks like in practice:

Terminix - Focusing on the Pain
Terminix – Focusing on the Pain

The very worst thing you can imagine, short of this bug landing on your head in the shower, is it nibbling at your children’s cookies. What is the very worst thing your customers can imagine?

Why this works: You’re “twisting the knife” so to speak, before offering them a way to make that pain go away. It’s very persuasive.

The argument for pleasure-promising copy: From Epicurus’ “People make choices based on what will make them happy,” to Freud’s “Pleasure principle” (pleasure is the driving force behind the id) – mankind has figured out that pleasure is a key component to driving action. Just as key as avoiding or stopping pain.

For many e-commerce businesses, your product isn’t a pain-killer; it’s a life enhancer. Your product is all that stands between your customer and their ideal life (or so we’d like them to think!). And we can use this on our landing pages to produce persuasive copy that converts.

Let’s dissect this landing page from Dean Street Society:

Dean Street Society
Dean Street Society

The beautiful desktop, artfully littered with creative tools, immediately sets up the promise we see front and center: Make a Living Being Creative. This headline is supported by the second line which further sells the dream.

Then it tells you what you need to do to achieve the dream – just join the free workshop.

This lead-generating landing page is for a free workshop – and it only asks for name and email. But notice what it does from the beginning – it pre-segments. This offer is only for her ideal customer – the maker, freelancer, blogger, creative, etc.

The recipe?

  • Start with your BIGGEST benefit – the dream you’re promising.
  • Reinforce it with the second line.
  • Show them how to get it.
  • CTA button.
  • Say who your offer is for – or, alternately, place some social proof, like a testimonial or user review, to let leads know that this is worth their time/effort/money.

Upgrade #5: Your secret weapon – the Thank You page

The art of using your Thank You page – the page your new subscriber/customer/lead is directed to after they opt-in – starts with using the momentum of their “yes” and building on it. That first “yes” is the hardest to get, but when your prospect is fresh from giving their affirmative, they are the most receptive to doing just one more thing.

You get to decide the thing.

Of course, you have to say Thank You on your Thank You page. But from there, you have some options.

  • You can ask them to do a short survey about why they came and what they hope to find (valuable insights for marketing and product development).
  • You can ask them to tell you about themselves (ie. self-segmenting, which you can use in targeted emails later).
  • You can ask them…well… pretty much anything.

Or, you can nurture the lead further by:

  • Adding links to your top-performing posts, resources, and tutorials.
  • Giving a special offer to new subscribers.
  • Asking them to follow you on social media.
  • Asking them to share your landing page (maybe in return for 15% off their first purchase).
Thank You Pages Increase Landing Page Conversions
Thank You Pages Increase Landing Page Conversions

This Thank You page asks the viewer to do several things – which isn’t best practice (landing page = 1 action only!), but they get this part right: The most important CTA is also the biggest.

For post purchase Thank You landing pages:

You can suggest additional products frequently bought with the one they’ve chosen. Amazon uses this to great effect in their 2-stage checkout process.

Once you hit “Add to cart” on Amazon, you’re directed to a page like this.

Amazon Post Purchase Thank You Landing Page
Amazon Post Purchase Thank You Landing Page

It shows you what you’ve added, then presents you with offers.

You can “get a $70 Gift Card Instantly” with their Visa card.

You can buy related products.

Or you can peruse “Frequently bough with” items.

Once you proceed to check out, you see this page:

Amazon - Recommendations Based on Your Order
Amazon – Recommendations Based on Your Order

This page shows you recommendations based on your order. A subtle difference, but a powerful one.

They don’t let their Thank You page go to waste – that’s for sure.

One final tip – the best landing pages are those that are tested

The best landing pages don’t convert by chance – variations have been tested until the clear winner emerges. A/B testing is integral to landing page conversion optimization. So try one or all of the above suggestions, one at a time, and see which ones work best for your audience.

For more information on A/B testing, check out this free resource.

5 Easy Upgrades to Increase Landing Page Conversions

Writing and designing a conversion-powerhouse of a landing page is a science – a shifty, constantly evolving science that is, frankly, hard to pin down. While trends in landing page design may change (and they do), there are a few basic tenets that the most successful ones share that can increase landing page conversions. And they’re not difficult to implement.

e-Commerce Value Proposition – How To Make Your Store Stand Out

Ecommerce Value Proposition

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

November 29, 2017

e-Commerce value proposition is more or less the same as any value proposition. I guarantee that you’ve seen and read far more value propositions than you’re aware of – because they’re everywhere. They’re on home pages and landing pages. They’re on Facebook ads and sales pages. They’re on freeway billboards and curbside restaurant menus.

“Eat at Joe’s – Home of the Foot-long Corndog”

And they pop up in the most unexpected places.

When the voluptuous Italian movie star Sophia Loren said the Hotel Ritz Paris was “the most romantic hotel in the world,” that was a value proposition.

But, for how prolific value propositions are, confusion surrounds them. You’ll find a number of variations on this 4-point list of what a value proposition does.

A value proposition:

  1. Defines who your customer is
  2. States what your product does
  3. Establishes why you’re unique
  4. Shows the end benefit
Ecommerce Value Proposition Steps
Ecommerce value proposition list

Sophia Loren’s “The most romantic hotel in the world” statement does all of these things. The Hotel Ritz Paris is for lovers; they will find romance there; more romance than anywhere else in the world. Place that sentence next to a photo featuring Sophia’s generous endowments – and you have your benefits. *Photos are used in value propositions a lot, either as supporting players or integral parts.

Value propositions look deceptively simple, don’t they? But they are one of the most important statements you’ll ever make for your e-commerce products. They require thought, consideration, substantial research, and ongoing testing. Furthermore, they’re worth the effort.

When they work, value propositions make the difference between getting the sale – and boosting your bounce rate.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition expresses what is unique and desirable about your product – but they aren’t a list of features. It answers the question: What differentiates your product from the competition? And the answer must be grounded in something your target audience desperately wants.

To better understand the meaning let’s analyze it word for word.


Unique means that it is something that makes your site or your store unique. It should set it apart from the rest of competition by offering a one of a kind product, buying experience or some other element of the offer. This is the most important point of the value proposition – it must be unique.

Unique means that prospects will end up finding your offer, store or products as the only ones with similar properties. That way you ensure the prospects will likely buy at your site and not somewhere else. Your unique value proposal must be easily and clearly demonstrated to prospects so they realize it immediately.


Your offer should provide some value to your prospects. Basic economic theory says if you expect customers to pay money in exchange for the goods you sell it must provide more value to the customer in return than the money customers pay has for them. Value element of UVP can be enhanced by several methods, all of them addressing the perception of value:

  • You can offer free shipping
  • You can emphasize beneficial features of the product
  • You can offer deals and price reductions
  • You can engage customer in a process and provide value through informing and educating them about the products
  • Relevant and clear offer


The proposition is a means to convert a prospect into a customer. This represents your call to action and it needs to be placed at the point where prospects motivation is greater than the friction hindering their action. For a call to action to result in conversion, it must follow proper build up of motivation through increased value perception until a prospect is finally convinced to take the action.

To increase the likelihood prospect will take action, you must make the call to actions visible and the action itself easy to take without much obstacles or qualifying requirements.

When you combine all these requirements, the result you will get will be a unique value proposition and it will convince your prospects that by buying from you they will solve their problem in the best way available.

However, this approach presupposes that the product is already designed, already built, and just needs the right words to tell people why they want it (because you know they will want it if you just explain it correctly).

And that isn’t a safe assumption to make. In fact, the authors of the book Value Proposition Design take the opposite approach.

e-Commerce value proposition before product?

Value Proposition Design authors Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Greg Bernarda and Alan Smith contend that a value proposition is one of the first steps to creating a product customers want.

For e-commerce stores just starting out, this may be an especially useful way to think about value propositions – as not separate from, but integral to product design. It’s certainly a way to differentiate from Amazon and other e-commerce giants and build something uniquely suited to your ideal clients.

This approach actually has much in common with the Lean Startup methodology. It begins with identifying your ideal customer and mapping what they value, then seeing if and how your idea fits.

In fact, problem-solution fit takes up much of the book, beginning with a multi-page, step-by-step exploration of the ideal customer – their desired outcomes and benefits they seek, the pains they experience, and their “jobs” (what they’re trying to get done). Using that list as a foundation, you can then describe how our product/service can create those desired outcomes and how it can alleviate pains.

From there, you would not only be able to build your value proposition, but have the information required to build the product prototype itself (or a minimum viable product, if you’re Lean).

But let’s be real here: most businesses, and certainly most copywriters, only think about creating a value proposition once the product is in motion.

You’re asked to assume that problem-solution fit has been found, and maybe it has.

I would argue that it’s in your best interest to check – because without that core problem-solution fit, your value proposition won’t work.

Check your fit (and find the raw materials for your value prop)

To check your problem-solution fit, you don’t have to interview a hundred ideal customers – thank goodness. There are a number of methods you can use to gather qualitative and quantitative data, like using NPS scores to identify your brand advocates and selecting a few to interview about why they use your product, what their pain points were before the product, and how, specifically, your product/service helps them achieve their ideal outcomes.

That’s a really good way to check your fit, while also gathering first-hand information and quotes you can use later when constructing your value proposition.

Once you have a few options for value propositions, you’ll want to ensure fit by testing them, as Jamie W did for ZapFlash (as shared on CopyHackers). Jamie found that the wording in Option B resonated with the college student segment of her audience:

Value Propositions Can Be Tested
Value Propositions Can Be Tested

Copywriter Lauren Van Mullem uses qualitative data to inform her value proposition copy in a slightly different way that is also very effective, and a little faster and easier. She uses testimonials.

“When I need to very quickly understand a product or service’s value, I ask my client to send me all the testimonials they’ve received from their ideal clients – and only their ideal clients. The ones who pay the most and are happiest with what they receive. Then I read through all of the testimonials and categorize them based on the benefits and pain points they state. Patterns emerge very quickly, so sorting them into just a few categories is easy. These categories very clearly show the value people get from the product or service, and the core needs that drove them to buy. Out of that foundation, I can write every other piece of marketing, including a value proposition.”

She also has another hack – taking excerpts of the actual words and phrases used within the testimonials.

“Using the exact same words and phrases as the ideal client is a psychological trigger that makes you sound familiar to other similar people. Cialdini, in a nutshell, tells us that people buy from people they like – and people like what’s familiar. What is more familiar than reading the same language you would use? The way we speak and write marks us culturally, socioeconomically and geographically, and as marketers, we can use that to create a feeling of kinship.”

So, compile your testimonials. Sort them into themes and categories, and highlight words and phrases that perfectly encapsulate common pain points and benefits. From that pool of material, you’ll find where your solution fits, and how to sell it. Then, as always, test.

How to write your value proposition

Writing a value proposition is a little like making pumpkin pie – everyone has their own favorite recipe. And, if you want a great recipe, you’d do well to ask the best pie bakers you know. Here’s how three of the savviest copywriters and marketers approach value propositions.

Joanna Wiebe, Conversion Copywriter, Founder of Copy Hackers

A value prop expresses what your prospect strongly desires 1) that only you offer or 2) that you offer best / most interestingly / most beautifully / most affordably / etc. A quick formula for your value prop is this:

Our customers are loyal to us because they want {highly desired X}, and we offer them that {in Y way}.

Amazon can say, “Our customers are loyal to us because they want a huge selection of brands they love at prices they love, and we offer them that with fast, free shipping.” Even Walmart can’t say that. Alibaba may be able to say the same, though, which is perhaps where the convo shifts from value prop to brand – is it a coincidence that Amazon is now running highly emotional ads, like the dog-and-baby or man-walking-dog commercials, to make us feel something for their brand?

Brand is the ultimate differentiator.  

And that brings us to the real question: What do your customers really care about? Yes, the whole world wants the best stuff for zero dollars delivered instantly. But what do YOUR customers care about? And does what they actually care about highlight a chink in the giant’s armour? For example, might your customers really want to know the people behind the business? They can’t get that from Amazon. Do they love a great personality? Amazon doesn’t have that. Do they go batsh*t crazy for killer design? Amazon definitely doesn’t have that.

Punjammies couldn’t be more different than Amazon, and their value proposition works exceptionally well for their audience, making these pajamas unlike any other sleepwear online.

PUNJAMMIES Value Proposition
PUNJAMMIES Value Proposition

Their homepage reads:

PUNJAMMIES(R) are loungepants made with hope by women in India who have escaped human trafficking. Whenever you purchase PUNJAMMIES(R), you invest in the freedom and dignity of these women and girls who are working to forge a new life for themselves and their children.

Now that is a powerful differentatior.

Angie Schottmuller, Growth Marketing Advisor & Keynote Speaker

Ask a client for their value proposition, and you’ll likely hear their latest sales promotion (e.g. 2-for-1) or get a deer-in-the-headlights reaction. It’s a misunderstood, outdated, fluff phrase. Just referencing the word “proposition” misdirects our desired thought process. (We’re targeting simple, meaningful facts — not opinions, schemes, or sexual suggestions.)

Instead, ask clients to describe their DIFFERENTIATOR.

  • How does your product/service differ from status quo? (i.e. Describe the contrast of current and future state.)
  • How does your product/service differ from the competition?

Descriptive responses to these questions identify key features from which we can derive benefits/value. If you’re stuck on features, ask, “Which means?” Repeat this process until you reveal the feature’s meaningful benefit, impact, or usefulness for the customer.  

Example Product: HP Spectre Laptop.

Differentiator: Solid-State Drive (SSD) [feature] >> No moving parts [feature] >> Runs silently and loads faster [benefit]

We have no idea what makes us unique unless we compare ourselves to others. Identify your differentiator to discover your value.

Differentiator is the new value proposition.  – @aschottmuller

The Purple Mattress company cleverly places their value proposition in the blurb you see on the search engine results page. In fact, not only do they declare themselves to be “the world’s first” and “the biggest mattress-tech advancement” – they even made up their own differentiating test, essentially creating a value proposition out of thin air.

Purple Mattress Value Proposition
Purple Mattress Value Proposition

The “Raw Egg Test”? No other mattress company has ever claimed that.

Talia Wolf, Conversion Optimization Consultant & Trainer

When asked “What is your value proposition?”, most companies reply with a long list of features, pricing and benefits that makes them different. However, there are many brands in the world targeting the same customer as your own; and some have better products, better features and better pricing than your own.

So, how do you really stand out? By emphasizing the customer’s value.  

This isn’t to do with the amount of features you have or how many years you’ve been in business; it’s to do with the customer’s emotional value.

Marketers tend to forget that there are people behind those screens, not just devices and geographical locations. People buy on emotion. They face different challenges and are searching for the one to solve it for them. In order for you to stand out, you will need to highlight what’s in it for your customer – how does your solution make them smarter, safer, happier or even loved?

Once you identify those key emotions and values your customers are looking for, you will be able to translate them into your design using color psychology, persuasive copy, the right images, fonts and many more.

So next time you’re crafting your value proposition, remember: what customers really care about isn’t the what, it’s the why.

Purple Carrot, an ingredient + recipe delivery service (like Blue Apron, only vegan), perfectly leverages the key emotions of their target audience in their value proposition.

Purple Carrot e-Commerce Value Proposition
Purple Carrot e-Commerce Value Proposition

Who wouldn’t want a mouth-watering vegan meal that makes them feel great?

Value proposition design

Successful value propositions aren’t just about the words – they’re about effectively conveying an idea. And ideas are communicated as much through images, psychology, color choice and design decisions as by the text on the page.

Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at Shopify, shares a recent study the ConversionXL Institute conducted of how value propositions are displayed.

ConversionXL Institute recently studied (via eye-tracking and a questionnaire) a few common ways sites display value propositions: 3 simple bullets, 3 bullets with descriptions, 5 bullets, and a short paragraph.

We found that you should limit other elements on the site or, at least, other elements near the value proposition. All elements on the page should be super relevant to the value proposition.

Ambiguous imagery was found to be a major source of confusion and misunderstanding.

In our study, the headline was “Get A Complete View Of Your Personal Finances” and the imagery was three different devices displaying the same financial dashboard. We found that an overwhelming amount of participants then focused on just one element of the value proposition, “connecting all devices.” For some, the imagery even made them think about “selling computers.” Yikes!

Frilly wording wasn’t found to influence perceived understanding, but it was found to influence recall. Test explicit descriptions of features and benefits for yourself.

Lastly, don’t worry about your value proposition being too long. We found that users noticed the value proposition more quickly when it included more text (i.e. took up more real estate) and they spent longer on it when there was more to read. Instead, worry about communicating clearly.

Of course, value propositions aren’t relegated to the “Hero” or header section – you can also put them on Facebook ads that lead to landing pages, like Vinley Market.

Vinley Market’s Value Proposition
Vinley Market’s Value Proposition

Vinley Market’s value proposition is consistent between their Facebook ad and their landing page, but not identical (due to character count constraints, no doubt):

Ad copy: “We are obsessed with uncovering the best boutique wines at amazing prices.”

Landing page copy: “We are obsessed with uncovering the best boutique wines that majorly over deliver for the price.”

Notice that the copy on the landing page sounds much more like a value proposition because of the “the best X” “that [differentiator]” construction. Design-wise, their landing page is clear, with minimal distractions, and they have a rather lengthy value proposition statement that covers what they do, what a primary fear of their target audience is (avoid the trap of pretty labels), and a promise that they’ll make it easy.

They also do one very important thing: They offer social proof that the wines will, in fact, be good (another psychological trigger from Robert Cialdini) by promising to send only “the bottles our buyers are most excited about.”

It’s great e-commerce copywriting because it makes the value you can expect so very clear, while covering common objections and addressing common fears.

Some more ecommerce value propositions

UVP: Expert Service. Unbeatable price.

Bestbuy value proposition
Bestbuy value proposition

Here we have an example of a clear and relevant value proposal. Best Buy value proposal contains two messages that try to differentiate it from the other competition.

The first ‘Expert service’ establishes BestBuy where you can encounter people who will be able to offer you advice on your purchase as well as customer service. The expert service claim is backed by their subsidiary Geek Squad, offering 24/7 service for all items bought on BestBuy.

The second part of the value proposition is very clear – ‘Unbeatable price.’. BestBuy claims to offer the best price, that can’t be matched by other retailers. This claim is further backed up by the messaging at bottom of the page, offering price match guarantee and free shipping.

Service and price are two of the most important factors if you are buying electronic equipment or household appliances. You both want to have an expert service and advice and low price that does not compromise the service.

The rest of the page design is clear and complements the main message by introducing offers of free shipping on all items all the time, featured offers and deals, as well as featured best selling products. The one mistake a page makes is using a rotating carousel, a feature that takes control away from the visitor.

Best selling products also feature a rating in stars and number of customers who rated them, so there is ample social proof.

Footer of the page contains a price match guarantee to back up the claim of unbeatable price. Clicking the link shows conditions under which price match applies and instructions how to claim price match.

Soundwall value proposition
Soundwall value proposition

The main message you get from this web page is ‘Eye-catching sound. Stream music from interactive Flat Panel Speaker made of Aluminum artwork.’

Soundwall is a company that offers streaming speakers to which you can connect any of your devices and play music. Their value proposal for flat, wall mounted speakers conveys the idea that a speaker can be an aesthetic item in your household. An item that will not only provide excellent sound and seamless reproduction from any device but also attract the attention of your guests.

The overall design of the page is very clear and features very few distractions. At the center is the image of a speaker itself being used.

Further down the page, you can see a video of a product installed in various environments and some of the key features explained. The product differing features are well explained and shown in animation or video.

The page does not feature any form of social proof, but the top menu contains reviews, leading to excerpts and links to product reviews. Free shipping and ability to return the product further increase the value of the offer, removing a risk if you do not like the product.

UVP: By the glass. Every month.

Vinebox value proposition
Vinebox value proposition

Vinebox is a subscription service that enables subscribers to enjoy a selection of different wines every month. Their value proposal points this out simply and eloquently. It is further reinforced by a sub-headline that explains the concept in one sentence – ‘Taste wines from all over the world, delivered straight to your door, starting at 25$/mo.’

The message makes it extremely clear what the site offers and even creates the price expectation. Vinebox offers the opportunity to try out different wines a clear differentiation in that you do not need to buy an entire bottle just to try a specific wine.

Landing page itself is designed without any distractions above the fold. The page itself is long form and offers several options you can try. Each option has its own value proposition, mutually supportive with the main one.

You can try and take a quiz (actually more of a survey) to determine what kind of wines you like. Vinebox promises that they will use the responses to offer you a curated experience and offer you wines that match your tastes.

Finally, the bottom of the page contains social proof in the form of reviews by relevant media, including WineSpectator, TechCrunch, Fashion Times etc.


Mancrates value proposition
Mancrates value proposition

Awesome gifts for men

The problem company attempts to solve for customers is to make it easy for them to find a gift for men that conform to and enhances the perception of being ‘macho’.

A value proposition for Mancrates,com is as simple as they get. In one sentence it conveys the entire idea behind this website. ‘Awesome gifts for men’ is a value proposal which, while not containing any specificity beyond awesome, makes prospects assume a gift will be something that every man will like.

This concept is further elaborated in a part of the test called ‘Our manifesto’:

‘We believe men deserve better gifts. Gifts that stir a primal craze of chest bumps and cheers, not polite half-smiles. We believe gifts should be just as exciting to give as they are to receive; the gifts of water cooler legend. We are Man Crates, and we do awesome gifts for men.’

Manifesto promises to prospects to provide gifts that will elicit true satisfaction from the person who receives the gift (‘stir primal craze of chest bumps and cheers’) in a display of manhood rather than ‘polite smiles’ of oh-that’s-nice variety.

The page itself features a hero image with men in a warehouse unpacking gifts. Hero image complements the value proposition and connects it to a masculine looking man on the image, implying the gift will indeed be handled and delivered by people who know what ‘real men’ want.

The page design has no distracting features, search field has a clear call to action ‘Search for the perfect gift’ and the top menu links to shopping area and individual product categories.

The website is effective and unique. While many gift websites offer gifts for everyone without specific emphasizes, Mancrates offers a solution to a specific problem their prospects may have.

UVP: Feel Good Underwear for Men and Women – Every day

MeUndies value proposition
MeUndies value proposition

MeUndies homepage contains several sections. Above the fold, their initial value proposition is ‘Every – day’. The cleverly formulated value proposition subtly invites prospects to feel good every day – in comfortable, elegant and simple underwear. The value proposition is short and clear, making a clear and relevant promise to prospect.

Other section of the page provides prospects with the opportunity to match pairs with their partner or to buy unique special edition underwear for a limited time. Each option has its own unique value proposal and call to action.

‘Spotted in the wild’ offers a new design with a unique snow leopard combination of colors. The value proposal conveys the idea that this combination of colors in underwear unleashes a wild side in a customer, aiming to attract younger and more adventurous people.

Join and save 33% with a membership’ invites prospects to sign up for a subscription service promising a 33% savings and an animation of persons wearing multiple different underwear pieces. Membership is the preferred outcome of conversion for this company, so it makes multiple promises – savings and a fresh pair of underwear every month.

While there are no explicit social proof or reviews in evidence, there are links to social media accounts of the company, where a prospect can find numerous testimonials, reviews, and ample social proof.

Furthermore, the company offers a risk-free shopping with guaranteed return policy, cancellation of service at any time and other risk minimization methods. A customer can swap any delivery and exchange it for other design or even skip it altogether. All of this is clearly pointed out on the membership landing page, making it very attractive offer.

Design of the website does not feature any distraction and every call to action serves either to engage visitor even more or make them convert. The website makes a deliberate effort to address everyone and photos and videos feature different body sizes models, which is further amplified by their social media accounts.

So you’ve got your value proposition – now what?

Hurray! You’ve written your value proposition, your designers have crafted a simple, yet powerful image to go with it, and you’ve got your call-to-action button primed and ready.

Now what?

Pop the bubbly and relax?

Hah! No.

The most important part of the value proposition process is the one that’s talked about least – testing. Even if you think you did everything right, even if you consulted your customers, triple checked fit, used their language, and honed your benefits – the only way to ensure your message resonates with your audience enough to measurably increase conversions and sales is… to measure. You have to track what happens.

You’ll need to measure and understand the traffic reaching your page, including what they’re reading most (or least), how long they’re on the page, and how many click your CTA button and convert into customers.

Then, you can begin to A/B test variations on your value proposition wording and delivery to optimize it and win more conversions.

Then you can pop the bubbly.

Has an e-commerce value proposition recently caught your eye (or earned your dollar)? Share it with us on Twitter @Objeqt.

Ecommerce Value Proposition

A value proposition expresses what is unique and desirable about your product – but they aren’t a list of features. It answers the question: What differentiates your product from the competition? And the answer must be grounded in something your target audience desperately wants.

30 Psychological CRO Tests to Run on Your e-Commerce Site

30 Psychological Conversion Tactics You Can Test

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

October 29, 2017

Conversion rate optimization is all about psychology. But where psychologists are trying to figure out why people do what they do, the Conversion Rate Optimizer’s challenge is to know what stimuli will get people to take the action you want them to take. In this post we list 30 psychological CRO tests to run on your e-commerce site.

It’s not about being manipulative. That’s the dark side.

Dark Side - Psychological CRO Tests
Dark Side – Psychological CRO Tests

Noooo! I won’t! Even though that cookie is a really good incentive that preys upon my desire for immediate gratification (we’ll get to that later).

On the side of good: This is about showing people what they want and giving them every reason and every chance to get it. You might say it’s about helping people to achieve their goals – as much as it is about achieving yours.

The CRO also has tools and tests to know, beyond a Rorschach ink blot of a doubt, whether the psychological trigger s/he’s employed works… or doesn’t.

This is where we bring psychology and testing together, so you can try these already-proven, scientifically based psychological action triggers and see how they work on your very own e-commerce website.

For each trigger, we’ll include ideas for how to use it on your website – in your product pages, landing pages, or CTA buttons. From there, it’s up to you to A/B test these suggestions against what you currently have.

Not sure how to run an A/B test? Check this out.

Types of Psychological Triggers – and How to Test Them

Button Psychology

Get Noticed with Contrasting Colors (CTA buttons)

Signal Detection Theory + Visual Salience and Attention + Processing Fluency basically say that we’ve evolved to detect contrasting colors in our environment (signal detection theory) and picking out which items are important (salience). This comes in handy for identifying tigers in the grass and brightly colored fruits and vegetables – also for finding CTA buttons on product pages.

The idea behind Processing Fluency is that the easier the button is to find and identify its function, the more inclined the visitor will be to click it. We like things that are easy and simple to figure out.

Test it on your CTAs: Unless your CTA buttons already are in bright, contrasting colors (red and orange are popular choices, but not the only good ones), A/B test your current button color against a color that is in direct contrast with the majority of your website. Skipped art class the day they brought out the color wheel? Here you go; aim for opposites.

Test it another way: Contrasting colors aren’t the only way to make CTA buttons stand out (to capitalize on processing fluency). Increasing the amount of white space around the CTA, and placing it prominently, also ease the load on the overworked mind. A/B test increased white space to see if it boosts your conversion rates.

Use the Representativeness Heuristic: Don’t get too fancy with your buttons – they still need to look like buttons. Basically, we’re wired to recognize similarities in actual, tangible things, and things that are made to represent them. It’s the psychological foundation of why emoticons work (or why written language works, for that matter). It’s also why we recognize CTAs as buttons when they look like buttons.

Test it on your CTA: Try adding a 3-dimensional component to your CTAs, like a bevel or shadow, so they look more like actual buttons you can press with a finger.

Color Palette - Psychological CRO Tests
Color Palette – Psychological CRO Tests

Test it another way: The representativeness heuristic is also why we take → to mean forward movement. Try putting an arrow, or >> on your CTA button to let your visitor know they’ll be moving to another page.

Leverage Gaze Following: If you see someone stop and look to the right, you look to the right too – because you naturally assume there’s something worth looking at. This is called “gaze following” and it’s something we primates do as a shortcut to finding food, alerting to danger, and spotting celebrities on the street. You can use it too.

Test it on your home page: Have an image of person (any creature with eyes, really – it can even be a stick figure) staring directly at the form, CTA, or other action you want people to take. And remember: You can easily flip images. You could even A/B test one image looking at your CTA, and one looking away from it – just for fun (but believe me, the one looking towards your CTA will perform better!).

Looking at CTA Usually Converts Better
Looking at CTA Usually Converts Better

Conceptual Fluency: The psychological underpinning of “if she can see it, she can be it.” Human beings are more likely to do what they can envision themselves doing. One incredibly easy way to use this is to switch your copy from second person (you, your) to first person (I, me, my).

Test it on your CTA button: Try changing “Start your free trial” to “Start my free trial” and see what happens. When Michael Aagard tested these two variants, he increased conversions by 90% by switching to first person.

Test it in your product pictures: Instead of just showing the product, show the product in use – held in someone’s hand, worn on a real person’s body, etc. Zappos uses videos of people walking in their footwear. All of this helps the consumer envision what it’s like to use your product themselves, which has been shown to increase conversions.

Use Processing Fluency: When we consider doing something, we predict how easy or hard it will be to do. If we believe it will be hard, we’re less likely to try. Here’s the interesting part for CRO: Lengthy or difficult instructions will hinder conversions, but so will hard-to-read fonts.

Test it on your CTA buttons or on a form: As you’re A/B variant, make your font size slightly larger and choose an easy to read font like Verdana or Georgia (both of which were designed for Microsoft by type designer Matthew Carter, specifically to be easy to read on screens).

Test it on your home page copy: Simple, clear, and brief should be the goal of copy across your website, but many websites verge on verbosity. Invoke your inner Hemingway and cut your verbiage for this A/B trial.

Make’m Nervous with Choice Rejection – When you force people to actively reject an option (like, say, to subscribe to your newsletter), they start to consider the benefits they’re giving up, which triggers Loss Aversion (we’ll get to that later), and are more likely to accept the offer. In practice, this is how it works.
You design a pop-up ad asking if the viewer would like to sign up for your newsletter. Variant A would be a simple “Yes” or “No.”

Variant B would go like this:

“Yes, I’d love to get weekly coupons, news, and a roundup of deals.”

“No, I like paying full price for everything.”

Test it in your pop-up copy: Be explicit about the benefits of saying “yes” to your offer, and the downside of saying “no.” Joanna Wiebe used this technique and increased her conversion rate by 400-500%.

Emotional Color Theory

The idea here is that color is tied to emotion – and emotion leads to action. Therefore, color can affect conversion. This isn’t just for CTA buttons (though red tends to spur faster reaction times and just might push impulse buyers over the edge); it’s for your entire website. Conversioner’s Talia Wolf introduced a pink hue across this prom dress website, contributing to the emotional experience of mothers and daughters shopping together. That pinkification raised revenues by 86%.

Note: If your products follow trends, then the colors on your site should too. This tells your customers that you are on-trend and will keep them on-trend too. What colors are in? Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 is Greenery (it’s always a good place to start).

Pantone's Color for 2017
Pantone’s Color for 2017

Test it across your website: Use this color cheat sheet to create a variant of your website that capitalizes on these color-emotion connections. Choose the color family you believe will work best with your product and audience.

  • Red – For impulse purchases, sale signs, promotions and CTA buttons.
  • Orange – May increase a sense of urgency, happiness and optimism. Try it as the dominant color of your website, or your CTA buttons.
  • Yellow – If you’re selling food products, yellow stimulates appetite (and green denotes freshness).
  • Green – Use to create a fresh, natural, relaxed ambience on your site – great for eco-friendly products.
  • Blue – Authority, most often used for banking, medicine, and other serious products where trust is of paramount importance.
  • Pink – The color of calm, joy, femininity and romance. It’s a natural choice for businesses catering to women.
  • Purple – Creativity, spirituality, and luxury for women of a certain age. Most often used in brands that target older women.
  • Black – Power and luxury, can be used to increase perceived value.
  • White – Clean, modern, simple, sophisticated.
  • Gray – Practical, neutral, contemporary, classy. But can be boring, depending on how you use it.
  • Gold – The color of money, exclusivity and luxury (works well with black or white to increase perceived value of the product).
Gold = Success ?
Gold = Success ?

Pain Spurs Action

Whether it’s emotional pain or physical pain (there actually isn’t much difference, neurologically speaking), focusing attention on pain actually makes that pain feel worse, and we’re more driven to alleviate it as a result.

Test it on your product page or landing page: Take the pain point that aggravates your target audience the most, and use a sentence or two (or five) to dwell on it. Add an image showing someone suffering from it. Then, show how your product fixes the problem – and most importantly, tell or show the “after” to your gruesome before.

The Power of Placement

Anchoring Heuristic: The tendency to place more importance on the first piece of information you see is called the “anchoring heuristic.” It’s the impulse that makes us walk out of a store with the first thing we saw, and the instinct that tells us Zappos is the best online shoe store because it’s the first shoe ad we saw on Facebook.

Test it on your home page: Take a best-selling product and feature it prominently on your home page, so it’s the first thing people see when they come to you. Then see if your conversions for that product increase.

Test it on your product page: When listing your product price, display the high “regular” price first, then show the discounted price under it. This will increase the viewer’s perceived value of the product and make them feel like they’re getting a great deal. Compare this variation against its opposite: Placing the lower price more prominently, and the higher price less.

Eye-Catching Placement: A 2014 eye-tracking study showed that the eye is drawn to the upper left corner and the center of any given page. Eyes are also attracted to larger things before smaller things, and raised graphics before sunken ones. See what happens if you:

  1. Place your CTA button in the middle of the page
  2. Create a pop-up opt-in CTA that appears in the middle of the page
  3. Make your CTA button larger than your logo (but not so big that it stops looking like a button)
  4. Visually raise your CTA above the rest of the page (see example below from DailyMile)
Eye-Catching Placement
Eye-Catching Placement

Cialdini’s Six Conversion Hacks

1. Reciprocity

Humans are hardwired to pay back favors. Give away something of value, and people will be naturally moved to give back.

Test it: Try doing a “free sample” promotion. Maybe where you throw something in for free with an order – like when you get makeup samples free with purchase. It’s something very few e-commerce stores are doing, so it can also be a way to set yours apart. For best results, make the freebie something your ideal client would actually buy. Remember to track conversions from before and after you implement your promo.

2. Consistency

Nobody wants to be a hypocrite; we have a deep desire to match our actions with what we say we’ll do. And, we also like to keep doing what we’ve been doing – as long as we’re rewarded for it. Which brings us to conversion. Studies have shown that the more we say “yes,” the more we will continue to say “yes.” And you want your customers saying “yes.”

Test it on your home page: Try a “commitment checkbox” popup on your home page that says “Yes! I am ready for [your biggest benefit] today!” You’ll have to figure out (and test) what benefit your target audience wants most to use in this copy – it might take a few tries. But, when ConversionVoodoo did this, that checkbox resulted in 11% more conversions.

3. Social Proof

When we see that other people have liked something or have done something, we feel like it’s a safer bet. Social Proof reduces purchase anxiety – the fear that a product won’t live up to expectations, or that the purchaser is going to be cheated in some way.

Test it on your product pages: Put user reviews on your best-selling product pages (for starters), like Modcloth and Zappos do, for six months as a test run. See if your conversions increase or decrease, and by how much.

4. Authority

People follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. You can be one, or you can buy one (er, hire).

Test it on social media & your home page: Find an expert in your industry or public figure that resonates with your audience, and ask them to endorse/mention/publicly use your product. Many Youtube video-makers and bloggers are happy to do this, when appropriately compensated. Consider this a line item in your marketing budget. You can set up tracking from those links to your site so you know exactly what revenue to attribute to this experiment.

Test it on your unsubscribe page: Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” page leverages the authority of no other than Bruce Lee. It’s charming and funny, and they get far fewer unsubscribers as a result.

Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” Page
Huckleberry’s “unsubscribe from emails” Page

5. Liking

We buy from people we like – which makes your challenge to become more likeable. People tend to like people who are like them, and they base those judgements primarily on visual cues from your website and social media and personality cues in your copy.

Test it: Achieving likeability is heavily involved with brand strategy and buyer personas – and if you haven’t done the groundwork there, you aren’t ready to test anything. What is your target audience pinning on Pinterest right now? Look at the topics, colors, and style for inspiration on what changes to make and test on your website.

6. Scarcity… deserves its own section.

Scarcity / Loss Aversion / Urgency – AKA FOMO

Cialdini’s Principle of Scarcity is that people perceive limited quantities as more precious and valuable. And, embedded in this principle of persuasion are the related psychological triggers of Loss Aversion and Urgency.

Loss Aversion: The idea that losing something hurts more than gaining something, so we will go farther out of our way to avoid losing something than we would to get something. In practice, this means if the deal is for a limited time, we’ll jump on it so we don’t lose the opportunity (which would hurt).

Urgency: Same thing as loss aversion – we don’t want to miss out.

Then there’s the related commodity theory: The idea that scarcity increases perceived value because possessing hard-to-get items makes people feel unique and special.

And there are so many ways to use these.

Test it on your product pages: Items in limited supply are very appealing – so on your product pages, let visitors know when there are “9 items left!” with low stock notices. Show your limited supply and track your conversion rates – they’ll very likely increase, because people believe supply is limited because demand for these items is higher.

Test it on your product pages another way: Another urgency instigator is the limited-time offer. One retailer tested a limited next-day shipping offer on their product page and boosted sales by 226%.

Test it with your products themselves: Consider introducing a limited edition line or ‘small batch’ specialty products to leverage the desire for exclusivity.

Test it on product & sales pages: Try installing a sale price countdown on product and/or sales pages to remind viewers how much time is left before the discount goes away. (See how Huckleberry does this below) You can also try this with free shipping or next-day shipping offers.

Huckleberry Sales Price Countdown
Huckleberry Sales Price Countdown

Test it seasonally – Starbucks only offers Pumpkin Spice lattes in the fall; McDonald’s McRib is so hard to find, they made an app to locate it when it appears. Consider testing what happens when you only make seasonally-tied popular items available for short, specific periods of time.

Test it with a VIP area: Scarcity + commodity theory = exclusivity, another way of raising perceived value. Consider testing a VIP area of your site for your best buyers, where they can see (and buy) new items first, and get some customer appreciation perks. Nurture your best buyers – they’re the ones most likely to buy more and bring their friends.

Each of these ideas is a hypothesis in the making…

Every A/B test you conduct will be based on a hypothesis – a statement of what change you plan to make, and what you *think* will be the result. That change is your variant, which you’ll compare against what you already have (the A to your B).

Each of these ideas for how to test psychological conversion triggers is the raw material out of which you can create hypotheses for your e-commerce website. For more on hypothesis creation, see this article.

Why test when each of these ideas is founded in multiple scientific psychology studies?

Because all of these ideas are part of a larger context of what your target audience wants, thinks and feels. You’ll have to test to know, for sure, what works best with your specific customers.

So, decide what to change, form a theory of how that will affect conversions, and set up an A/B test to see how you do.

30 Psychological Conversion Tactics You Can Test

Conversion rate optimization is all about psychology. But where psychologists are trying to figure out why people do what they do, the Conversion Rate Optimizer’s challenge is to know what stimuli will get people to take the action you want them to take.

Colors & Conversions in eCommerce Design

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

October 24, 2017

The psychology of color is a subject of strong disagreement in marketing and ecommerce design. We know we need it, and we’d like there to be a list of rules to follow that remain the same in all instances – but there isn’t. Color preference, associations, and color cause and effect, vary widely between individuals and cultures.

So, what we’re left with is what we’ve always been left with…

We have to design based on close research of our target audience – and that goes for colors too.

That’s not to say that there aren’t valuable guidelines for color selection that are grounded in science – there are (and they’re outlined below).

Here is what we know, what we think, and what has been proven to work when it comes to color and conversion in e-commerce design.

Psychological Underpinnings: Why are colors so important to conversion?

Studies show that humans understand visuals faster because they affect us both cognitively and emotionally.

According to visual communication consultant, Mike Parkinson:

“Cognitively, graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. They increase comprehension, recollection, and retention. Visual clues help us decode text and attract attention to information or direct attention increasing the likelihood that the audience will remember.”

“Emotionally, pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes. Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material).”

When your purpose is to persuade, your best bet is to leverage emotion. And nothing, not words or entire images, appeals faster, or more powerfully, to people’s emotions than color.

According to Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers place color as the primary reason for why they buy a product and color increases brand recognition by 80%. People are also said to make subconscious decisions in under 90 seconds, and color is a great way to trigger action. – Conversioner

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design
Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

If you’re in doubt that color has any real bearing on human emotion and ensuing behavior, consider this:

When the University of Iowa painted the opponent’s locker room at their football stadium Pepto Bismal pink (also known as “drunk tank pink”, or Pantone Baker-Miller Pink), they did so because research had shown that particular hue caused muscles to weaken and moods to calm in people who were exposed to it for a long time.

And, in the 1970s, Alexander Schauss noted that starting at Pepto Bismal pink made his heart rate slow, which prompted him to suggest that Naval correctional prison cells be painted pink from floor to ceiling. It sounds like the result of losing a bet, but the Navy did it, with these results:

“Since the initiation of this procedure on 1 March 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behavior during the initial phase of confinement.”

Pink isn’t the only effective color for influencing emotion and behavior. Traditionally, certain colors are associated with certain emotions.

Emotional Color Chart
Emotional Color Chart

Research into human emotion has come a long way since the 1970s. In fact, a 2014 study from Glasgow University suggested that human beings really only have four emotions:

  1. Happy
  2. Sad
  3. Fear/Surprise
  4. Anger/disgust

Those four basic emotions can be blended to create the variations we all feel, like bittersweet or “happy tears.”

Furthermore, emotions are hard-wired to generate actions.

Happiness, for example, makes us want to share. Just look at the “mirroring” behavior that happens when you smile at someone – they’ll most likely smile back. Even newborn babies do this. It’s called “social smiling.” In social media, positive articles are more likely to be shared than sad ones (but articles that provoke anger and anxiety are also shared at a higher rate).

Fractl published a list of “The Emotions of Highly Viral Content,” and all of them – ALL of them – are related to happiness.

  1. Amusement
  2. Interest
  3. Surprise
  4. Happiness
  5. Delight
  6. Pleasure
  7. Joy
  8. Hope
  9. Affection
  10. Excitement

Interestingly, the image they chose to display each emotion in their study was a color chart based on Robert Plutchik’s “wheel of emotions.

Wheel of Emotions
Wheel of Emotions

Don’t be fooled into using this chart as your guide to marketing magic, however. Green does not inspire terror and purple does not disgust the populace.

Colors by Target Customer

Colors affect emotion and emotion spurs us to action. But the question remains: How can we find the right color for our target audience that will produce a conversion?

We’re not limiting the discussion here to CTA button colors (though we’ll get to those). But rather the overall color story of an e-commerce website.

And which colors you use depends on your target customer.

What Women Want

According to research from Sherwin-Williams, colors that appeal most to women are blue, purple and green; while orange, brown, and gray are least appealing. But, once again, don’t be fooled by this generalization, because choosing paint colors for your home is a lot different than selecting a car, your wardrobe, or your next laptop.

If the Sherwin-Williams research was the absolute last word, why would women’s clothing designer Dorothee Schumacher have her website professionally designed in black and neutrals (with just a pop of green)?

Dorothee Schumacher Website Color Scheme
Dorothee Schumacher Website Color Scheme

The Dorothee Schumacher website color scheme is a user-focused design decision that deliberately attracts customers who prefer high-end fashion to cheaper fast-fashion. The color story here is one of high cost, high quality, luxury and sophistication – all attributes associated with black.

If you look at the websites of high-end cars, this theory bears out.

Website Colors High-end Cars
Website Colors High-end Cars

In another user-focused design decision, Conversioner made a prom dress site pink “to project calm, hopeful and positive feelings.” Pink was very much part of the emotional story they wanted to tell.

The color pink was introduced to more than just the banner or background; the images on the page were given a pink hue and were all directing to a certain type of experience – our goal was to help women (mothers and daughters) experience the delight of shopping online in a world of calm and positive emotions. These changes and others increased revenues by 86%.

Black, pink, blue, green? Women want them all. But not all the women at the same time, for the same products. And this is true for any demographic. You can’t say “men like earth tones, so my website will be brown” and expect that to work. The effect color has on emotion and action is more contextual than that.

The “right” color is the one that brings your target customer closer to their desired outcome, whether that’s to feel connected to their prom-going daughters, or be delighted by the heady luxury of high-end clothing or the purchase of James Bond’s favorite car.

Color by Desire

Ever wonder why so many BUY buttons are red? Because impulse shoppers, the quickest wins in e-commerce, gravitate towards orangey-red. Their desire for immediate gratification seems to get a boost from action-oriented red. In fact, research from the University of Rochester in 2011 showed that people who were exposed to the color red had faster reaction times in general.

Just look at fast food logos if you’re in any doubt of red’s ability to tip people over the edge into impulse-purchasing (yellow, incidentally, also makes people feel hungrier). Can red create desire? Probably not. But it can enhance a desire that’s already there, and possibly provide the tipping point from desire to action.

Fast Food Logos Colors
Fast Food Logos Colors

Environmentally-conscious buyers, who want to feel like their purchase decisions make a positive impact on the natural world, go for earth tones (greens and blues especially), and health-conscious purchasers will always go for a fresh-looking green.

Environmentally-conscious Buyers Prefer Green
Environmentally-conscious Buyers Prefer Green

A lot of this is common sense.

Some of it isn’t though.

Color associations vary depending on culture. In Chinese culture, white is the color of mourning; in Brazil, purple is the color of death; and Hindus hold the color yellow as sacred, while yellow makes Greeks feel sad and means jealousy in France.

So, when I tell you that the color you choose should be tailored to your audience – I’m very serious. Every audience is different, even if they share the same cultural background.

Color Association 101 for U.S. Audiences

Color Associations
Color Associations

RED – Stop. Danger. Hot. Urgency. Physical dominance. Errors (like your teacher’s red pen). Use for sales, promotions, and, of course, CTA buttons. Dmix wrote about one of their projects in which they tested green and red button colors. In their testing with 600 subjects they found that conversions increased by 34% when they used red button.

ORANGE – Urgency. Happiness. Energy. Optimism. Use for logos and CTA buttons. Unbounce says the color of the future for call-to-action buttons is orange.

YELLOW – Sun. Happiness. Optimism. Money. Encourages appetite (it’s a food color) and is often used by brick-and-mortar stores to grab attention from window shoppers.

GREEN – Go. Nature. Freshness. Progress. Relaxation. Use to set the overall tone of your eco-friendly or health-conscious website and landing pages (you can also use nature imagery – you’re not limited to flat colors!).

BLUE – Relaxation. Trust. Authority. Cleanliness. Cold. Fact: Blue is the #1 favorite color of all people and it’s the most commonly used color for corporate brands.

PINK – Calm. Joy. Femininity. Love. Romance. Use to foster feelings of sisterhood and connection.

PURPLE – Creativity. Spirituality. Calm. Classic. Often used in brands that cater to older women.

BLACK – Power. Luxury. Quality. Used most often to market luxury products.

WHITE – Clean. Modern. Simplicity. Order. Think Apple.

GRAY – Practicality. Neutrality. Contemporary. Always classy.

GOLD – The color of money. Use it as an accent to luxurious black.

Lamborghini Colors
Lamborghini Colors

5 Tips for Using Colors that Convert

  1. Keep it simple – don’t use more than 4 colors. Ever notice the color schemes of logos? They’re really simple. One, two, maybe three colors. Try to pile too many colors into a color scheme, and it will look amateur rather than elegant. And don’t forget about white. White always looks clean and modern, and it makes other colors pop.
  2. Match your colors to your target customer’s psychological needs. Do they need to trust you? Do they need to feel safe, secure and happy? Do they need warm fuzzy nurturing feelings about your product, or are they buying your product because they want to feel on the cutting edge of modernity (just look at Sony Vaio’s U.S. website for that color scheme: Black and white with a metallic accent).
Sony Vaio Website - Exemplify Success
Sony Vaio Website – Exemplify Success
  1. If your products follow trends, your colors should too – think in terms of Pantone’s color of the year and seasonal colors. In fact, just read Pantone’s color descriptions in their color report articles. They’re all about emotions.

    PANTONE 19-4045 Lapis Blue

    Conveying even more energy is Lapis Blue. Strong and confident, this intense blue shade is imbued with an inner radiance.

  1. Class up anything with gray. Grayscale photos, gray text (instead of black) – gray can be charmingly nostalgic or bracingly modern, but it’s always classy.
  2. Don’t just pick a color because it’s your favorite. Do you know how many amateur websites I’ve seen done in red, black and white? Because the owner liked the look? When it didn’t fit the brand, the product, or the customer – at all? Too many. Don’t do that. And, don’t choose a color scheme because it’s on a website you like. If the website is from a different industry, chances are their customers are entirely different from yours (so what works for them likely won’t work for you). And if the website is in the same industry, it’ll look like you’re copying.

Essentially, base your color choice only on what your target customers are looking to feel. Anything else won’t produce the conversions you want.

In the words of Peep Laja:

Serious gains in conversions don’t come from psychological trickery, but from analyzing what your customers really need, the language that resonates with them and how they want to buy it. It’s about relevancy and perceived value of the total offer.

And that goes for color choice too.

Colors and Conversions in e-Commerce Design

The psychology of color is a subject of strong disagreement in marketing and ecommerce design. We know we need it, and we’d like there to be a list of rules to follow that remain the same in all instances – but there isn’t. Color preference, associations, and color cause and effect, vary widely between individuals and cultures.

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

June 20, 2017

There is a lot of information on defining your ideal customer, but most of it isn’t written for you. It’s written for software-as-a-service companies, or startups, or both. And while e-commerce can benefit from many of the same best-practices, some of the information written in those articles just doesn’t apply.

This article is written just for you, and it’s all about how to define, find, and attract your ideal e-commerce customer.

First, my definition of an ideal customer:

An ideal customer is someone who has a problem you are uniquely equipped to solve, who is willing, able and happy to pay for that solution, and who is delighted to have found you.

And they shouldn’t drive you nuts (nobody says this, but it’s important – ideal customers are not the ones who take up all of your customer service agents’ time, return more products than they buy, and complain about you on social media). Nobody needs that.

This is why I included the “delighted” clause; people who are delighted to find you genuinely appreciate what you have to offer. They’ll be more inclined to become loyal customers, make repeat purchases, and recommend you to their friends, which are vital elements to any growth strategy.

How do you find these ideal clients?

First, you need to admit a hard truth

Your product isn’t for everyone. I repeat: Your product, unless it is toilet paper, is not for everyone. This is usually the hardest hurdle for business owners to leap, because you want everyone to buy your product (naturally). You think everyone could use it!

But not everyone will want to use it, become addicted to using it, and talk their friends into using it too – that’s the customer you need.
Limiting your scope to an ideal customer isn’t a liability, it’s an opportunity.

Businesses that are able to become leaders in their niches do very, very well.

Then, you need to ask yourself (and your current best customers) some questions

I might begin a conversation about ideal customers with questions about basic demographics (gender, age, education, career, geographic location), role in the company or role in the family, needs, wants, fears, and favorite hobbies – but that’s just a warm-up.

What I really need to know to begin understanding a client’s ideal customer is this:

  • The most important goals this person wants to accomplish (what is really important – in and outside of work?)
  • What is at stake if this person fails to accomplish those goals?
  • What drives them CRAZY on a regular basis (and I mean, pulling-their-hair-out nuts)
  • What are the greatest benefits your ideal customer stands to gain from your product?

These questions lead us into the real meat of the issue: Ideal outcomes, worst fears, greatest pain points, and biggest benefits.

The ideal outcome is what the customer wants most from your product. If I’m buying a sweater, my ideal outcome would to be warm (but not too warm), and feel deliciously cozy – reserve me a place by the fire and bring me a cup of hot cocoa. If you try to sell me a sweater, I may or may not buy it. If you sell me that cozy place by the fire, I’ll buy it every time. You’ve spoken to a deeper desire.

Worst fears are incredibly valuable to know for marketing purposes – they always get a response. What is the worst thing that could happen if your customer doesn’t have your product? What do they stand to lose?

Greatest pain points are key to understanding how much your ideal client really needs your product (and how effective of a solution you’re actually offering – you can use this to develop products as well). The amount of pain is directly proportional to how much time/money/resources your ideal client will spend to fix it.

The benefits question not only tells you what people love about your product, but also gives you deeper insight into your customers’ ideal outcomes – especially the ideal outcomes they’re really achieving. These insights are golden for your marketing and content strategies.

How to get these answers

You’re going to have to do some intensive customer research. A good place to start is by identifying your current favorite customers (or a segment of customers that outperforms all of the others). These are the people you made your products for, who support your business loudly, and who you genuinely enjoy (because they genuinely enjoy you). They also have to be the ones willing to pay full price, unless your ideal customer is a bargain hunter (hey, that could be your demographic, in which case, run with it!).

Then, send them a survey with questions that get at those four essential truths, along with any other pertinent questions you’d like to ask, like how they found you, what they were looking for, what industry they work in (if applicable), and why they ultimately chose to buy from you. You might also want to ask if they have, or would, recommend you (Why? Why not?).

Use this as a launching point to begin fleshing out your ideal customer profile – a list of characteristics common to your ideal customers. Then, use that list to identify potential ideal customers and target them in your marketing.

A targeted Facebook ad, for example, should drive increased traffic to your site. Then you’ll want to observe your conversion rate to see if you are, in fact, hitting your target market accurately.

Shanelle Mullin, Content & Growth at ConversionXL offers a variation on my method for constructing an ideal customer profile.

Looking at your recent, happy customers can give you an idea of who your ideal customer is. There are two ways to go about this: customer surveys and customer interviews.

A lot goes into an ideal customer profile, so you want to use customer surveys to understand four key things:

  1. Who they are.
  2. The problem they came to you to solve.
  3. Their shopping process.
  4. Their buying process.

Note that the answers you’ll receive for questions related to the last two will be skewed by time. They won’t accurately remember the shopping or buying process months later. Only ask those types of questions if you have a large group of recent, happy customers.

Typically, you’ll want to ask 7-8 questions per survey. It’ll give you a good amount of data, but it won’t scare people away.

Make sure every question you ask is actionable. What will you add to your ideal customer profile based on the answer? If your answer is nothing, don’t ask the question.

Also, in this case, you’ll want to avoid yes/no or multiple choice questions. That way, you truly hear from the customer and go beyond quantitative analysis.

Aim to collect 200-250 responses total. If you go through fewer than that, you won’t be able to identify patterns and trends.

For more information on conducting a productive customer interview, check out her in-depth article on the subject.

Be careful of the customer you wish for

Having worked with dozens of marketing, growth-hacking, and conversion companies with their clients, I can attest to this truth: Sometimes, you think you’ve identified your ideal customer, and you change your site and SEO to attract them, and you end up attracting entirely the wrong audience.

I was working with a package tracking company once that was having this trouble. They wanted to rank for the keywords “package tracking,” and succeeded. The problem was, grandmothers who’d sent gifts through Amazon were trying to track their packages through them, when their actual product was an internal package tracking system that would ensure a package got from a corporate basement to its appointed desk, six floors above. The package tracking company wanted people searching for “package tracking” to find them – and that’s what they got.

To fix that problem, they had to adjust their messaging for clarification and refine their SEO strategy.

Refining your ideal client

If, after you’ve identified your ideal client and adjusted your marketing accordingly, website traffic is down, or conversions are the same or down, you may be missing something. The issue could be in your messaging, it could be that your marketing is slightly off-target, or it could be something entirely different – you can begin to form a picture using Google Analytics, but you won’t really know unless you ask.

You might want to try an exit survey – a pop-up survey that appears once someone clicks off your page – that asks what the user expected/hoped to find but didn’t. You might discover that your best efforts only succeeded in attracting Amazon Grannies!

Other perspectives on identifying ideal customers

I asked Tiffany daSilva, Growth Hacker and Digital Marketing Consultant, to weigh in on how she starts off her e-commerce clients in identifying their ideal customers.

With an e-commerce site, we are inclined to believe you can just turn it on and target everyone, and you’ll get rich. But whether you’re selling garden furniture or t-shirts, there’s always an ideal customer that you should be refining your website for.

If the company doesn’t know who this is, they need to do their homework.
They need to look at industry data, even as a starting point just to understand who is looking for their products. The next step is to go to Google Analytics and see who is actually visiting their website.

Hopefully, they should see some synergy. However, sometimes we think that our ideal customer is a particular gender or age, yet the visitors to our site (and those who are the most engaged) are outside of this target. This may mean you need to you need to speak to these people directly and figure out why they are interested in your site, and whether they have an intent to buy, and what you can do on your website to help them.

If they have no intent to buy and your website is clearly targeting the wrong audience, I would then look at the ideal customer profile you have articulated so far, and use that when choosing testers for UX or user testing. This will help you understand what your ideal customers are saying about your website and how best to target them.

This work is what a CRO can provide for you, but it is so much more important to go through the process yourself. Without an ideal customer profile and clear goals, CRO will just be a moving target with little return.

While Tiffany daSilva and I both look at existing customers as our foundation, she looks at all of the existing customers and asks how many of them are “ideal,” whereas I only look at the customers we can already identify as being “ideal.” That difference comes from my background in Lean methodology and customer success – but really, both roads will take you where you need to go: Researching your customers.

What happens when you ID your ideal customer?

As your ideal customers begin to come in, you’ll want track how they find you, who they are, what their lifetime value (LTV) is to your business, and which characteristics correlate with greater or lesser LTV. With advanced tracking in place, you’ll be able to see which customer segments are the most profitable, who are the loudest advocates, and which ones are so engaged with your brand that they become integral parts of your social media communities.

With this information, you can optimize your marketing strategies to catch the attention of even more specific types of customers.

But it all begins with defining your ideal client. Because once you have that clear definition, you’ll be able to find the most effective ways to reach them, and the most effective ways to position your products and brand to attract, retain, and delight them. It’s the key to your marketing strategy, conversion rates and growth.

Defining Your Ideal Customer in e-Commerce

There is a lot of information on defining your “ideal customer,” but most of it isn’t written for you. It’s written for software-as-a-service companies, or startups, or both. And while e-commerce can benefit from many of the same best-practices, some of the information written in those articles just doesn’t apply. This article is written just for you, and it’s all about how to define, find, and attract your ideal e-commerce customer.

Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Published by

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Founder at Authentic Curation. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg. INFJ.

October 24, 2017

Pricing has so many roles to play in e-commerce. It has to cover product costs, personnel costs, and marketing costs to keep the business running (and profitable!), and it can act as a marketing tool, differentiating you from higher priced competitors. It’s a fine line to walk if you try to do it all – and most companies think they have to do it all.

But when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the lowest possible price isn’t always the right price – in fact price doesn’t necessarily depend on what the other guys are doing. The price you can charge for optimal conversions is based on a whole other criterion: Your audience.

Playing The Price is Right

Let’s play a game: True or False

If you lower your prices, your conversions will improve.


False – it depends on your audience and your unique value proposition (why they’re buying from you, rather than anyone else).

It’s counter-intuitive, but people don’t buy based on lowest price. They buy based on:

  • Trust
  • Brand (which is tied to trust)
  • Ease of purchasing
  • How well you communicate your value proposition
  • Proof your product will deliver the buyer’s desired outcome (also tied to trust)
  • Reduction or removal of risk (read: Trust)
  • Immediate action incentives

Basically, your sale depends on building trust, delivering desired outcomes, and tipping the scales of decision by gently prodding your buyer to act. When you have that combo in place, you’re no longer a price-based decision, you’re a value-based decision.

But – if your value proposition is, in fact, that you guarantee the cheapest price around, and that’s working well for you, then you’re already appealing to your target audience of bargain hunters. You don’t necessarily need to attract those who seek value to run a profitable business. Just look at Wal-Mart. You do still have to understand your audience and gain their trust though, because cheap prices won’t overcome those deficiencies. So read on.

Trust Issues

The biggest conversion killers have to do with trust. We want to know that we’re not going to be victims of a scam or unscrupulous business people, so we look for indications that the businesses we purchase from are on the level.

Your buyers, every one of them, will feel better about buying from you when:

1. Your site looks professional and updated

Both of the stores below are reputable, but which one would you prefer to buy from based on web design alone?

Store Visual Appearance
Store Visual Appearance


Store Visual Appearance
Store Visual Appearance

The funny thing is – the first web page actually has more trust indicators. They show their physical address and telephone number, they have a brick-and-mortar store, they’ve been in business for over 36 years, and below the fold, they have a quality guarantee AND a video of the store owner dancing the Cha Cha.

But the second website has a more updated design, the modern “Need Help?” chat window, and a top bar that is clean and simple with a search feature, “my account” and cart. I feel more comfortable here, and when I take the time to scroll below the fold, I see that they’re the “world’s largest online dancewear store” (clearly many people shop here – and that’s social proof). The only thing that troubles me is that they have this floating quote with zero attribution.

Social Proof
Social Proof

This site would convert much better if they had real, attributed quotes from happy customers, or even better, user reviews on their product pages.

2. You show user reviews

Even if your user reviews aren’t 100% good, just having them on your site has been proven to boost conversions. Think of bad reviews as a chance to publicly show your excellent customer service skills. And good reviews? Those are golden.

  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers. – eMarketer
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust businesses more. – BrightLocal
  • 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews –  iPerceptions

3. More social proof

For B2B e-commerce businesses especially, a great way to show social proof is to display the logos of companies that buy from you. B2C companies can get in on this action too by showing pictures of people who use their products (bonus points if they’re celebrities).

4. Product images are big, professional and varied

The simple act of making your product images larger has been shown to increase sales by 9%. But it’s not only size that counts, you also need good resolution (no grainy photos!) and alternate views of every product. ConversionXL recommends alternate views, detailed close-up shots, and pictures of people using the product.

5. You state your return policy and privacy policy

Buyers want to know what they can expect from you if the product doesn’t work out – and what they can expect from you when they trust you with their personal information.

6. Trust badges are prominently displayed

Trust badges include security seals, Better Business Bureau badges, McAfee, Norton, SiteLock and Google – but perhaps the most trusted badge is Paypal. ConversionXL research showed that Paypal garners more trust than all of the above. It’s also a handy way to pay.

The bottom line is: People will pay a premium to buy from businesses they trust.

Desired Outcomes

This is where understanding your audience really comes into play, because what buyers want most is the outcome. There’s an old saying that nobody who buys a hammer wants a hammer – they want a hole in the wall. What is the end result your buyers hope to achieve when they have your product in-hand? If you prove you can deliver that, they won’t care about the price. Here are a few ways to do just that.

1. Don’t pick desired outcomes out of thin air – do your research

It’s an all-too-common mistake for business owners to think they know what their customers want, without actually having asked them! Just like there’s “no crying in baseball,” there’s no guessing in business. Ground your assumptions in actual, qualitative and quantitative research (ie. words and numbers both).

2. Don’t settle for the easy answers

What people really want most isn’t faster shipping or lower prices, it’s to feel a certain way. As Talia Wolf wrote in Emotional Targeting 101:

When we buy something, we don’t purchase a ‘product’, a special price or features; we purchase an experience and a better version of ourselves.

When analyzing buyer responses to your qualitative data surveys, be on the lookout for hints of what their aspirations are, as well as the practical considerations they appreciate most.

3. Clearly state your value proposition

Your target audience’s desired outcome is closely tied with your value proposition – in fact, your value proposition had better include your audience’s desired outcome, or you haven’t achieved product-market fit.

Joanna Wiebe, Conversion Copywriter and Founder of Copy Hackers defines value propositions like this:

A value prop expresses what your prospect strongly desires 1) that only you offer or 2) that you offer best / most interestingly / most beautifully / most affordably / etc. A quick formula for your value prop is this:

Our customers are loyal to us because they want {highly desired X}, and we offer them that {in Y way}.

4. Show that you’re delivering on your promises with user-generated content

Yes, this trust exercise is also important for proving you can deliver on your audience’s desired outcomes. User-generated content can include product reviews, testimonials, links to third party review sites, and best of all – user photos. Check out Modcloth of outfit photos.

5. Price based on perceived value

“Perceived value” is what consumers think the product is worth to them, rather than a monetary value based on material quality and cost. In the 2010 book Money Makers by David Snider and Dr. Chris Howard assert that “When the benefits outweigh perceived costs, your prospect will take action.” Once you’ve changed your content to sell the desired outcome, the benefits of buying your product will become more apparent, and have a better chance of outweighing the perceived costs in the buyer’s mind.

Essentially, when your customer believes they can get exactly what they want from your product, you can justify charging more for it.

Action Incentives

Even when you’ve targeted the correct desired outcome for your audience and made your website as trustworthy as possible, you can raise your conversion rate even further by providing a little extra incentive. Something that spurs them on to “Buy Now!”

Usually that means putting something on sale, but not always.

1. Show your stock numbers

When stock numbers are low on a certain item, or on certain sizes, show it. Anyone who is on the fence of purchasing or not will move, because of Loss Aversion.

Loss Aversion
Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion is the idea that humans will do more to avoid a negative consequence than to make a positive outcome happen (because negative consequences hurt worse than positive results reward). It’s closely related as Scarcity, one of Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence.

Basically, it hurts (and hurts bad!) to lose something you want, even if you don’t want it very much. In fact, when you face the prospect of losing something, you want it even more. It’s why “Now for a Limited Time Only!” and “Only 5 left!” work so well to boost conversions, even when the product is full price.

And, of course, this tactic works really well for limited time sales.

2. Buy Now for [Incentive]!

“Buy Now for free shipping,” or buy more for free shipping – basically, act now to get a lower price or faster delivery, or even a free extra item, like a mystery gift bag. Having an order minimum for Free Shipping is one of the best ways e-commerce stores can increase sales they wouldn’t otherwise get.

In a study conducted by eConsultancy, Free shipping was the most popular motivation for 82% of UK and 80% of US consumers.

What’s easy for you to offer that has value to your customer? Make that your incentive and watch conversions rise! (But your incentive had better be good, because otherwise you’re undermining their trust in you, which will cost you in the long run).

3. Limit options

Sometimes, the sheer number of options you have on your site undermine your conversion rates – people can’t decide. In The Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz says the more choice customers are given, the easier it is for them to choose nothing. If you have lots of products, invest in really good search and filter features so people can narrow down their options based on – yep! – their desired outcomes.

What’s Your Price?

The right price for any item depends more on how well you prove it will deliver the buyer’s desired outcome than any other factor. Your buyer wants to feel secure in their purchase, which is why trust is of paramount importance; your buyer wants to feel good about the purchase (all decisions are emotional); and your buyer might need an additional incentive to make his or her move.

You don’t need to have the lowest price to convert. You just have to give your customers the best set of reasons to convert with you.

Pricing CRO Style: Matching Price to Audience

Pricing has so many roles to play in e-commerce. It has to cover product costs, personnel costs, and marketing costs to keep the business running (and profitable!), and it can act as a marketing tool, differentiating you from higher priced competitors. It’s a fine line to walk if you try to do it all – and most companies think they have to do it all.

But when it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the lowest possible price isn’t always the right price – in fact price doesn’t necessarily depend on what the other guys are doing. The price you can charge for optimal conversions is based on a whole other criterion: Your audience.