Website Testing Wins: Selling the Sale

By ​Peter Borden

April 2, 2012

What is the one magical word that gets customers moving, a word that is as old as commerce itself? Sale!

Of all the things you can optimize on your website, would you believe that the word “sale” could be fine-tuned? The need for such a test might seem counter-intuitive, because as brick-and-mortar stores show, the mere presence of the world “sale” is able to stir customer dollars. What more needs to be done other than telling your website visitors that you have a sale in progress?

As it turns out, a little emphasis can lead to major results.

A leading apparel retailer was not satisfied with simply stating their website was currently having a sale; they really wanted to sell the message. So they tested a tiny variation in their presentation of the word “Sale” in their main navigation bar. The original version featured “Sale” in black type—the same color as the rest of the navigation bar copy. In the test version, the type was changed to bright red.

The change only affected a small portion the page design, but the impact it had on key metrics was impressive. Overall, the retailer saw a 2.98% lift in conversion and a 0.55% decrease in cart abandonment. While we can’t reveal the projected annual incremental revenue of the switch to red text, we’ll just say any firm on the Internet Retailer 500 would be quite happy with the results.

Color theory aside, this test supports the design best practice of helping an element stand out by making it different from whatever surrounds it. And if you want to assist today's price-conscious consumers in finding the best deals on your website, this test could be worth a try.

Peter Borden is a former marketing strategist at Monetate and was responsible for PPC and email marketing strategy. Peter's also an expert on the psychology of persuasion, influence, and conversion as well as an active iOS developer.

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