eCommerce innovation has been going on for the last 20 years. But there is one area where eCommerce innovation has been lacking.
eCommerce is still very much a broadcast medium with the marketer doing all the talking.
The buyer can’t talk back. They can’t participate in the buying process.
The idea of active participation fixes that.
eCommerce innovation active participation explained
The philosophical idea active participation is to allow the buyer to shape and influence the buying process. And we have empirical A/B test data to show this massively optimizes conversion rates.
As the user travels through our conversion funnel they are given opportunities to interact.
If the two of us visited the same site but behaved differently we will end up with different experiences. That’s what makes the idea of active participation so powerful. It’s user-driven.
Is there evidence active participation works?
Evidence #1: Physical retail
For 100s of years retail was about buyers and sellers meeting in a store and having a rich conversation about needs. And based on the specific needs of the buyer the seller would find the perfect product and then explain the features and benefits of that product based on the language the potential buyer used when expressing their needs.
Evidence #2: Live chat
According to ApexChat live chat can increase online leads by an average of 40%. Why is this? Is it because the chat agent is sharing details that aren’t on the site? No, everything is on the site. This conversion impact is happening because our System 1 is deeply influenced by human interactions.
Based on #1 and #2 above it’s clear active participation work. Plus, we have our own validated test data to prove it (case studies).
But why isn’t this eCommerce innovation already a reality?
Aspects of active participation have been around a while. For example, a product finder is a version of active participation.
Here is an example from Slumbr.com:
But these are still being used as optional ways to shop for shoppers. It’s like the self-checkout lane in your grocery store. It’s an option. One of many. My idea is to think of active participation as a foundational aspect of how we look at marketing. It should be across the entire buying journey: from our landing pages to product pages to email communication.
How active participation can massively boost conversions
The benefit of selling in person is that the experience is warm and human. The downside is that it’s expensive to sell in person and you can only handle one customer at a time.
The benefit of selling online is that it can be done at scale. It makes no difference if we are selling to one customer or 500. The downside of selling online today is that it lacks the feeling of walking into a mom and pop store.
The promise of active participation is that over the next few years buying online will feel just as warm as being in person (if that’s the kind of thing you’re into).
Thing active participation reveals
Active participation can be used in the following scenarios:
- Allow marketing content to be more digestible. We know skimmers consume content very differently than methodical buyers. Using action buttons we can show content for skimmers by default and allow methodical shoppers to dig deeper into content by interacting with action buttons.
- Reveal if parts of our product story suck.
- Let us know if shoppers are consuming our entire product story.
- Create a way for us to know when potential buyers are struggling.
6 examples of how you can use active participation to boost sales 20%
Where to apply interactive active participation elements
Having A/B tested every inch of eCommerce sites I can tell you the 3 most important elements are:
- Your landing page
- Your product page
- Your email communications
Therefore, these are the pages I’d apply active participation techniques to.
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