Site Optimization: Navigation

These days, we all shop online, and we all know that the most important and sometimes frustrating part of the shopping experience is finding exactly what we are looking for. Most of us rely on the site navigation to be the most organized and efficient way of purchasing the item we are looking for, but many sites fall short and end up losing potential revenue. There are five areas of the navigation that are the most important for consumers and businesses alike.

Let’s start with the most basic piece of the navigation – the logo. Your logo represents your brand. It is what consumers remember and it is what makes company identifiable. Even if you don’t know how to pronounce Louis Vuitton or know what LV stands for, you recognize the logo. It’s everywhere, and it represents luxury. Because the logo is so important to the business, it should be the first thing consumers see. People read left to right and therefore their eyes tend to move in a capital E shape. Make your logo obvious by placing it on the left side of the navigation bar or above the navigation links. Additionally, it is standard that the logo represents the home page on the site, meaning it is unnecessary to have a “Home” link next to the logo.



Moving to the right, you will undoubtedly have additional links available. Most likely something like “Shop Men’s” and “Shop Sale”. These links should focus on conversion and be simple to understand. Navigation is ultimately an information tree so the top level should be as basic as it can be and the drop down should allow for deeper filtering. Additional links like “About Us”, “Customer Care”, and “Shipping” belong in the footer.

Most of us enjoy a good sale. In fact many shoppers wait to buy until sale season, and the site front is the perfect place to advertise your upcoming or current sale, preferably in a promotion bar. Typically the “promo bar” sits above the navigation, just below the URL. Some sites have a persistent promo bar that they use to show free shipping or encourage customers to sign up for their newsletter, while others only show it during major sale times, like End of Season or Fourth of July. The promo bar is meant to be attention grabbing so it is important to make it a distinguishable color and underline the verbiage that can be clicked. If you have a coupon code, place it here as well.

Now onto the trickiest part – the drop down navigation. This is where many customers bounce away from the home page. Often dropdowns are overwhelming and too detailed with imagery that is distracting, multiple colors or uncommon naming conventions. If you have a unique set of products that require customers to educate themselves, keep the navigation simple so they can focus on a few product categories at a high level before diving into the specific items.

If you have a very recognizable product, such as clothing, you can expand the navigation while using industry standard verbiage.

The navigation should make finding what your customer is looking for as simple and easy as possible. Consumers know that there is no shortage of retailers available to them and if they can’t find what they are looking for quickly, they will move on to another site.

Last, but certainly not least, is to ensure that your navigation is sticky. This means that when a customer starts scrolling, the navigation sticks to the top of the page. This allows them to click from one page or category to another without scrolling all the way back to the top. Even sites that have a “Back to Top” button at the bottom don’t perform as well as those with sticky navigations – it is becoming the industry standard. You can find some excellent examples of sticky navigations here and here!

Segmenting Customers

There are several applications, platforms and integrations that allow you, as a retailer, to market to your target audiences by segmenting them based on purchase history, browsing behavior, or demographics. Once you have identified your various target audiences, segmentation is an easy way to appeal to them on a personal level in such a way that encourages a purchase. Marketers have been using this method for years and have seen great success.

Like I’ve mentioned in my previous blog posts, transactional emails are a missed opportunity and this includes segmentation. Although it is very common to see marketing emails segmented by customer information, you rarely see this with transactional emails. This is because a system must gather information about a customer and apply the segmentation prior to an order confirmation email being sent. We believe all emails should have segmentation applied to them.

In my previous blog post, I discussed how some real order confirmations could be improved upon. Let’s revisit the Kate Spade example.

In this example we see that the customer purchased a bag and a bracelet, both from the sale section, and they used a 15% off coupon. This is a customer that appreciates fine goods but is looking for a great deal. That being said, it doesn’t make much sense to market “new arrivals” to them in the promotional space beneath the order information. They may click through and browse the New Arrivals, but ultimately are unlikely to make a full priced purchase.

If this email had been segmented by customers that purchased from the sale category, or by customers who used a coupon, it could include messaging related to their buying pattern. Perhaps the promotional section could lead them to a “last chance” page, which would help move out inventory from a previous season, or offer a 10% off code for their next purchase to encourage a second purchase.

By segmenting transactional emails, you have the chance to not just direct your customers back to your store, but help them find a category or product page that will most likely result in a purchase.

Let’s discuss another example of when segmentation on transactional emails makes sense. You will often see product recommendations in order confirmations that read something like this;

Although knowing what other customers purchase is helpful and interesting, it may not be the best way to market to certain segments of your customer base. In the fast fashion space, for example, people are looking to buy inexpensive trendy items and are often looking for an outfit for a specific event, like a music festival. These customers would rather understand how to put an outfit together and see what other pieces would complete their look.

Check back soon for more on improving your transactional emails!

Order Confirmation Best Practices

We often see designers and marketers focus their efforts on newsletters and sales blasts rather than transactional emails. This is often due to limitations within their shopping carts, and sometimes due to a lack of time. As we have discussed, transactional emails are a missed opportunity and it all begins with the order confirmation. To maximize the available opportunity, here are some tips and tricks to ensure you are sending out the best possible order confirmation.

1.Branding, branding, branding

We have all experienced a bad order confirmation like the one shown here. It isn’t recognizable in any way. At first glance, it is difficult to determine which online store this email is from. This is because of an utter lack of branding. The email does not emulate the company’s image. Not only is this an ugly email, sparse and unidentifiable emails often create a sense of uneasiness with customers who are fearful of having their identity stolen in a hack.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 4.13.26 PM

Put a little extra effort in by adding your logo and some HTML.

2.Be Mobile Friendly

This seems like an obvious one, but many retailers don’t realize that their transactional emails aren’t optimized for mobile and tablet. With customers spending more and more time on mobile instead of desktop, it is imperative that all your emails, not just your marketing ones, are easy to read and interact with on mobile and tablet.

3. Include Valuable Content

We have discussed how order confirmation emails receive high open rates – in the 60-70% range – which makes them perfect for additional content. If you are launching a new product, send them to the pre-order page or a blog post about the upcoming release. Or if you are looking to send more traffic to your sale page, educate them on the great deal you are offering. Additional content in the order confirmation email may seem out of place, but it can be tremendously impactful.

4. Include an Opportunity to Review

Recent studies show that 55% of all customers find reading product reviews important before making a purchase, so it stands to reason that you should be encouraging your customers to leave reviews after purchasing your products. There is some debate over whether or not this should be offered after an order is confirmed or after the product has been delivered. Take into account that the customer may be a repeat buyer or be on a subscription. In these cases, asking for a product review in the order confirmation makes perfect sense. Plus, reviews from satisfied customers will boost your credibility and increase sales. And don’t forget to thank your customers for the purchase as well as for leaving a review!

5. Product Recommendations

You already know that a customer is interested in your products once they have purchased from you. Perhaps they are looking to make another purchase, whether that be more of the consumable you offer, or a matching pair of earrings to go with the bracelet you sold them. Provide them with information that they will find valuable based on their previous purchases

6. Get Social!

Growing your social communities is a daunting task. There are millennials all over the world working tirelessly to increase their company’s online community. Keeping that in mind, it makes sense to include a simple “Follow Us” in your order confirmation emails. Furthermore, you can incentivize them by letting them know about special offers and discounts available only through social channels.

Of course there are other actions you can take to improve your order confirmations, but if you are just starting the optimization process, these seven tips are a great place to start!

Check back in a couple weeks for more information on transactional emails and how to use them to increase your revenue.

Reviewing Real Order Confirmations

Now that we have now spent some time thinking about transactional emails, you may be thinking to yourself, “is there really a missed opportunity here?” Or maybe you are thinking that most order confirmation emails look pretty good. In today’s post, we will be discussing some real examples of order confirmations in various industries to pinpoint where improvements could be made.

Ebay with PayPal

Our first example is from a company with a store on Ebay. Since Ebay uses PayPal, we see them as the processor here.

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.21.21 PM


This probably looks like a standard order confirmation email. It has been personalized with the customer’s name and the items that they purchased. It has the order number and is effectively doing it’s job – telling the customer that the order they placed has been received and they have been charged for it.

         What this order confirmation is not  doing, however, is encouraging the customer to purchase again. This is where the missed opportunity lies. Yes, this was a relatively small purchase. You could say that there isn’t much to market to this person. Ideally, you want this customer to become loyal to your store. This would be the ideal time to educate them about your loyalty program, encouraging them to return and purchase again, with the incentive of a future reward or discount for doing so.

Chipotle – Mobile Order ConfirmationScreen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.57.55 PM

At this point you may be wondering how much flexibility retailers have when working through Ebay. Using a third party like Ebay does limit you some. After all, you have agreed to play by their rules. However, many large companies create their own emails through their site.

In this example, we recognize that this is a mobile order. Chipotle has done a great job of communicating with the customer. They know when and where to pick up their order, what is in their order and how much it cost. That being said, this is yet another opportunity to encourage loyalty through repeat visits. Starbucks has mastered this concept with their app, which includes loyalty points and tracks the customers visits to stores.

AdditionallyScreen Shot 2017-03-07 at 3.00.51 PM, Chipotle can use this mobile experience to encourage sharing on social media. Since the customer is already on their phone, they could share their order on Facebook or Twitter in a few clicks. This is when having a referral program can be implemented to market via word of mouth. All you have to do is provide the customer with a quality product and experience.


High End Retailers

In this case, the customer purchased from a high end retailer, Kate Spade, and once again is provided with all of the details you would expect in a standard order confirmation email. However, if we look more closely, the email is not appealing to this customer the way it could. The customer has purchased two sale items and used a coupon code. This indicates that they are a bargain shopper and was looking for a high end item at a reduced price. At the bottom of the email there is a link to the New Arrivals page. Linking the customer back to the site takes advantage of their focus being on the brand, but a bargain shopper will most likely not be interested in full priced new arrivals. This area would be better used by highlighting “last chance” products.

As you can see, the opportunities for order confirmation are endless, as are those for other types of transactional emails. Check back in for more information on transactional emails and how to optimize them to the benefit of your business.

The Various Types of Transactional Emails

As consumers, we are all familiar with the emails that are sent to us following a purchase online. Typically you will first receive an email confirming your order with the items listed, as well as the tax, shipping a total you paid. These emails usually see open rates of 60-70%, astronomically high in comparison to their marketing email counterparts. We know that transactional emails are being underutilized. Today, we explore the various types of transactional emails being sent.

The Standard Transactional Email Flow

Under normal circumstances, consumers encounter only three transactional emails. When operations are running smoothly, the company doesn’t have a need to contact their customers more than three times per order.

  1. The Order Confirmation: All transactional email flows begin with the order confirmation. Customers take this email as a sign of reassurance – their order has been successfully placed and they were charged what they agreed to for the items they desire. The order confirmation is the most opened email in the transactional email flow and is currently only personalized with a name and confirmation number. This is where the missed opportunity I referenced in the previous blog begins. 
  2. The Shipping Confirmation: The second email in our standard transactional email flow is the shipping confirmation. This email has high open rates as well as click through rates due to the available tracking link within the email content. Customers want to know from the carrier that they will receive their package when you, the company, claim.
  3. The Delivery Confirmation: The most exciting transactional email of them all is the delivery confirmation. These emails are usually linked to the carrier’s information about the package.  When the package is signed for or noted as delivered, the email is sent.

The above flow is familiar to any of us that have ordered something online, but there are other transactional emails that we see less often, and some may hold a hidden opportunity to appeal to our customers.

Other, Less Common Transactional Emails

If you’re a store owner that allows for refunds and returns and exchanges, the following transactional emails should be incorporated into your portfolio.

  1. Return Accepted Notification
  2. Refund Generated Notification
  3. Exchange Confirmation (followed by the shipping and delivery confirmations for the replacement item)

Some retailers offer backorders or preorders on their products. If you are one such retailer, ensure that the following emails are incorporated into your transactional flow.

  1. Backorder Confirmation (followed by the shipping and delivery confirmations for the item)
  2. Pre-Order Confirmation (followed by the shipping and delivery confirmations for the item)

Unfortunately, sometimes issues arise with orders that need to be addressed with the customer. All retailers run into these problems at some point and need the appropriate emails to communicate with customers. With both of these emails, you should ensure that you include a way to complete the transaction and order, as well as access to your customer support, in order to keep the customer loyal and happy.

  1. Failed Delivery Notification
  2. Failed Payment Notification

In our next post, we will continue to investigate transactional emails and the missed opportunity they hold by discussing real examples of order confirmations and how they can be improved upon.

Why Transactional Emails are a Missed Opportunity

As marketers, we are always on the lookout for inventive ways to attract qualified leads to our store fronts and turn them into loyal customers. The majority of customers are one time purchasers and transitioning them into returning customers can be a struggle for even the most established brands. We rely on email marketing to convert customers time and time again. But what if marketing emails and newsletters aren’t the only emails we should be adding marketing content to? It’s at this point that you might be thinking, “I already send every marketing email in the book – what other emails are there?” Transactional emails!

Transactional emails see a 114% opens rate in comparison to 14.4% for non-transactional emails (Litmus, “Best Practices for Optimizing Order Confirmation Emails” 2015) and it is truly a missed opportunity.

Defining Transactional Emails

Before we discuss why transactional emails are important to your marketing plan, let’s clarify what a transactional email is. At the heart of it, a transactional email is any communication that is related to a transaction that has taken place on the site. This most commonly includes order confirmations, shipping confirmations and delivery confirmations, but can also reference backorder notifications, refund confirmation, failed payment notifications and gift card deliveries. Emails outside of these, such as sale emails, birthday emails, and weekly newsletters, fall into the marketing email bucket.

Why are Transactional Emails a Missed Opportunity?

Straight to the point: transactional emails consistently see higher open rates and click through rates than any marketing email. In fact, transactional emails sent by top-performing companies are opened almost four times (Silverpop, “2014 Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study” 2015)

However, for retailers, opens and clicks are only meaningful if they result in revenue, and we understand that. You’re marketing to make money! Well, order confirmations, also known as receipts, generate $0.13 per email. This is in comparison to $0.09 for marketing emails (Experian, “Q1 2013 Quarterly Benchmark Study” 2013) And that is only the order confirmation! Complete transaction email campaigns bring in revenue up to six times higher than bulk marketing emails from the same brand (Experian Marketing Services, “The Transactional Email Report.” 2010)

The writing’s on the wall – it’s time to embrace your transactional emails and market to your customers when they are most interested in your products. The real question is “how do I best market within a transactional email?” Check back next week when we discuss best practices for marketing within transactional emails.

Dynamically Create Coupon Codes with Custom Words and Merge Fields

Revenue Conduit subscribers on our Growth plan and above (and on any cart but Shopify) can now dynamically create coupon codes that include custom words and merge fields!

Let’s say you want to create a single-use coupon code for each customer that hasn’t bought in 6 or more months. Now let’s also say you want to make the code look like you personally created it for each customer. Watch the quick video to see how you can use custom words and merge fields like first name in creating the coupon codes!

This feature is available for our integrations with Infusionsoft, HubSpot and soon to be released ActiveCampaign!

80/20 for Online Retailers

Watch the recording of our 80/20 for Online Retailers webinar with JD Crouse of Bolder Bands. JD shares lessons on how to grow your online store through the use of 80/20 analysis and RFM segmentation. Given that JD and his wife won the Shopify Build A Business Competition in 2014, these lessons carry weight and you should heed them.

In the webinar, we offer a complimentary Growth Assessment that you can request here:

JD also offers a compelling program that gives you direct access to JD on a monthly basis to ask any questions you have about growing and running your online store. You can sign up here:

Lastly, if you’re interested in learning more about 80/20 analysis, you can click here to download the 80/20 Cheat Sheet for Online Retailers

Grow Revenue by 50% With A Popup and 3 Simple Campaigns – Webinar Recording

We had an excellent webinar with our friends over at Justuno. Watch the video below to learn why Justuno is one of the best popups for online retailers and how a popup is just the first step in growing your online store, automatically.

Interested in giving Justuno a try? You should be. Click here to sign up now!

Don’t forget to use the promo code “revenue25off” for 25% off (do not include the quotes).


Introducing Four Brand New Features for Revenue Conduit

I have some exciting announcements – after doubling the size of our development team and adding a full-time Quality Assurance Tester, we have been pounding out new features like never before! Today I have four new features to tell you about.

By the way, in all cases, these features were requested by you, our subscribers. Thank you for the feedback and your continued help in making Revenue Conduit the best it can be. Now on to the details…

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