Conversion Fails: Don’t Hide Your Value Propositions


The surest way to shoot your site in the foot is to not-so-cleverly hide purchase incentives — like a 15 percent discount and free shipping — from your customers. If it takes 10 minutes of navigating your site to reveal your value propositions, you’re not going to entice many customers. You will, however, lose an unnecessarily high percentage of them.

This Actually Happens

I recently worked with a store that was looking for tips on how to improve conversion rates. I spent 30 minutes going through their site with them, making observations and discussing their business. It took about 30 minutes for me, an expert with more than seven years of website and conversion optimization experience, to realize that they offered free shipping every day, all the time. Soon after, I found their site-wide, restriction-free, 15% off coupon.

How did I stumble upon it? The client had a small image on the bottom right of their homepage that mentioned their free shipping and 15% off discounts.

The Mistake

Assuming every visitor will reach your homepage and dedicate enough time to uncover an inconspicuously small image with your value propositions is a no-no.

Most of the stores I work with see 15%-30% of their site-wide visits view the homepage. This means that roughly 70%-85% of visits don’t even see the page where this message is located.

Assuming that 50% of that traffic is attentive enough to find the messaging about discounts while on the homepage (50% being a very generous estimate), that means only 7.5%-15% of site-wide traffic would actually see this message.

Again, note that this online store’s free shipping and 15 percent off discount messaging was not displayed:

  • in their header
  • on product pages
  • on the cart page
  • on shipping/billing pages


Don’t Hide Your Value!

When your business does something that A) your competitor’s don’t do and/or B) is a big reason why someone might decide to purchase from you instead of somewhere else, don’t hide this message on your site and expect everyone to see it.

Free shipping has consistently shown to be one of the top things you can do to motivate e-commerce shoppers. We’ve also found that discounts start to increase motivation at around 10% (for most stores). Anything below 10% just seems like a cheap discount to visitors and doesn’t get a noticeable reaction in buying behavior. Both of these messages are some of the top tricks in the game to help increase you site’s conversion rates.

Reasons why someone should buy from you should be right behind inventory and price on your Website Importance Scale. If you have the right product in stock at the right price, any reason that separates you from your competition is vital in motivating someone to buy from you.

How to Fix It

Make sure your value propositions are seen — on every page. For something as big as free shipping with no minimum and no restrictions, that should be seen on every page. Similarly, 15% off site-wide, with no minimums and no restrictions, should be seen on every page.

Here are ways to increase messaging visibility:

  • Site-wide header:
    You’ll see a lot of sites with this information displayed in their header. This is an easy way to get this on every page of your website. However, it’s not as effective as you might think. If you’ve ever seen one of Jakob Nielsen’s F-pattern eye tracking heatmaps, you’ll see that visitors don’t even look at headers when scanning. Users have trained themselves to overlook headers so their focus starts at the beginning of the page content. So, even by putting these messages in the header, not everyone will see them — but it’s a good start.
  • Cart and checkout pages (shipping/billing):
    Make sure it’s on these pages. It could be at the top or messaged in the cart summary (“shipping: FREE!”), there are a lot of ways to do this. As long as the message is there — somewhere — you’re on the correct path. However, this is more for scent trail.Even this isn’t as awesome as you might think. This is helping visitors push through. So, it’s only motivating the visitors who are in buying mode; they’ve already decided they are considering making a purchase. After they’ve clicked add to cart, then they’ll see this message.The message will serve as motivation for visitors in buying mode, but the majority of your website visitors don’t get this far.
  • Product pages:
    My favorite spot on the product page for these types of messages is right next to (or below) the add to cart button. The add to cart button is your primary action on the page. It should be the one thing that stands out the most on the page. So, the eye will scan here because of this. Placing these types of messages right next to your add to cart buttons will put them in a high-focus area of the page.I’ve seen this be more effective than the two options above. Visitors see it. It can turn browsers into buyers and push interested shoppers through to a purchase.
  • Category (product listing) pages:
    This is more of icing on the cake than the meat and potatoes, but it won’t hurt you. There are two good ways to add this type of messaging to your product listing pages: bars/banners and tiles.The bar/banner approach would be to insert a banner every 3 or 4 rows of products that reinforces your free shipping or discount offer. This way, as shoppers scroll through products on the pages, they consistently are presented with this message.The tile approach is to insert a rectangle tile in place of a product every 3 or 4 rows down the page. It’s the same idea, but it just takes the same amount of space as a product instead of inserting a bar.

My Challenge to You

I’d like to see everyone do at least one of the 4 options above, if you offer free shipping (even if there’s a threshold – such as a minimum of $75). If you are already doing one or two of these, add another option from my list.

Even if you are doing everything I mentioned above, I’m sure there are creative ways you can highlight the reasons someone should buy from you instead of somewhere else.

Websites invest so much money on attracting visitors to their website (SEO, PPC, email), do yourself a favor and get more value out of that investment by making sure they know you have free shipping and/or 15% off.

Written by Christopher Charczuk, Conversion Manager at Exclusive Concepts