Category pages are considered as the backbone of e-commerce websites, they account for the biggest chunk of organic traffic (beyond the homepage). Building structurally strong category pages result in better ranking and a seamless user experience for higher conversions.
In this article, we are going to explore key category page marketing strategies and best practices for A/B testing to win and retain customers:
- Incentivize the first visit: Identifying whether a user is a first time visitor or a recurring visitor can help increase conversions. A recurring user might already be aware of the products available on your category page and has a higher chance of a conversion. But for a new user, providing an incentive is essential as they are harder to acquire. This can be done through a discount on the first purchase. If it does not result in a sale, you can still get actionable data and nudge them for future purchases. Their information can be used to identify shopping behavior and send email alerts about offers or collections. Such incentives should be time-sensitive, exclusive, and create an impulse to register.
- Promotional pricing: Customer psychology plays a pivotal role in purchase decisions and pricing takes the top spot. Brands often use odd prices that end in figures such as 5, 7, 8, or 9. Odd prices appear to represent bargains or savings and therefore encourage buying. Another feature most commonly used is slash pricing, where brands increase the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) but offer the product at a lower price by using a slash on the original price. Visitors react very positively to such pricing techniques. For brands operating in the premium category, another feature that can be used is a loyalty program, where customers are offered virtual points that could be redeemed against future purchases.
- Retargeting ads: Retargeting ads are an important part of the sales funnel and can direct users who are mid-funnel to make a purchase decision. At this stage, the awareness has been built, their interest in a product cemented but for a wide variety of reasons these customers might have bounced off your category page. Target these users using a variety of retargeting ads such as:
- Top product retargeting: Showing products that a user has already viewed but not purchased along with certain top products from the same category. They are a terrific opportunity to re-capture the intent through a final nudge.
- Incentive-based retargeting: Targeting users who checked out a category with an exclusive discount will help bring users back to the website. Ads can also be used to target all users who visited a particular category page which now has a discount or a sale running.
- New product targeting: This is highly effective for regular customers. Based upon a user’s preference as identified by cookie tracking, you can choose to show ads targeting new launches in a category that interests the particular set of users.
- Traffic generating ads: Identifying the right advertising platform and utilizing its maximum potential can help generate a huge number of clicks on your category pages. But not all ad platforms are created equal. Search ads on platforms like Google can take advantage of your page structure and display all of your top categories on the result page. While social media ads on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow you to create informative category-specific campaigns that would help you drive high intent traffic. A successful ad strategy is a combination of different types of advertising based on your budget and goals.
- Seasonal marketing: An often overlooked but extremely beneficial strategy is to adapt and customize your category pages according to seasonal changes. This could involve changing the theme of your category page, creating seasonal categories, making changes to your images and content, showing related products on top of the category page. For example, during the Diwali season, you could have a separate section for decorations, gifting, clothing, and accessories along with relevant filters. You can even rearrange the products in regular categories to highlight seasonal items, e.g. beneath a snacks category, dry fruit gifts or chocolate boxes could be shown at the top of the list.
Effective A/B Testing
A/B testing is a data-based approach to understand the impact of changes made on your website. For category pages, it becomes important to identify and illustrate what makes them unique. You can determine the best solution for every aspect by utilizing metrics such as conversion rate, dwell time, bounce rate, exit rate, engagement with sort and filter tools, add to cart rate, and CTA engagement. Using a defined hypothesis and pre-defined metrics you can test out various aspects of a category page such as:
- Page Layout: Should you display the best sellers on top or just one hero product? Should you go with a grid view or a list view? You can run multiple tests involving different types of layouts, product arrangements, and observe the aforementioned metrics to identify the layout and arrangement that is best suited for your customers.
- Images: Identifying the right display images and the various product images can significantly improve your conversions. You can test between multiple primary images, images with supporting text, or those without text. Observe what generates the most clicks on your products.
- Specifications: Identifying what specifications and the detail you should provide alongside a product on the category page to help users find the most relevant product in the fastest time possible. For example, if your category is protein bars you can experiment between showing information such as the amount of protein, top ingredients, information such as vegan, gluten-free to find out what combination of specifications will generate maximum clicks and conversions.
- Pricing and discounting strategy: Test between displaying the price or not, displaying a range of prices if the product has multiple size/color variations, using slash pricing, or highlighting discount offered to figure out what gives you better conversion.
- CTAs: You can test between various designs, copy, color palettes, and positions for your CTAs and observe what helps in driving up your engagement and dwell time.
- Filters and facets: Identify the most commonly searched attributes for your products and test out what combination of filters and facets help your customers find the right product.
The first step towards developing optimized and high converting category pages is to create enough ideas and a framework to work around them. The next step involves implementing these ideas and best practices and establishing what works best for your e-commerce website. Your category pages are crucial to the growth of your website and to remain successful you must ensure that they are useful and relevant by providing the best navigation and overall experience. Keep testing and reiterating changes as per user behavior to improve page performance and further optimize your marketing funnel.