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Buy Now beats Shop Now in driving mobile conversions: Rue La La

November 1, 2013

Flash retailer Rue La La is aiming to significantly differentiate itself this holiday season by making multiple tweaks and alterations to the creative within the company’s mobile application with initial results increasing conversions 35-40 percent.

Rue La La has been pushing the envelope with its mobile app in the past few months with A/B testing and is testing an average of five – 15 items within its mobile apps daily. Since Rue La La’s sales are only available for a limited amount of time, constantly testing what is and is not working plays a big role for the flash retailer in everything that the company rolls out, especially during the holidays.

“What we’ve seen is that the mobile audience does behave differently than the Web audience,” said Gerry McGoldrick, vice president of marketing at Rue La La, Boston.

“People shop differently on an app than they do on the Web, so while ‘buy now’ or ‘shop now’ may be the call-to-action that works on the Web site, what we’ve seen is that it doesn’t translate to the mobile environment,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that ‘shop now’ works on the Web, and ‘buy now’ works on mobile.”

“We did ‘get it now,’ ‘buy now,’ ‘shop now,’ and we saw that ‘buy now’ was the clear winner on mobile. We can still test it because people are fickle though – we’re constantly looking at that.”

Mobile testings

According to Mr. McGoldrick, Rue La La has traditionally done a lot of testing on its Web site, but up until recently was not doing the same with mobile.

Using A/B app testing, Rue La La is able to more closely marry up the Web and mobile shopping experiences since inventory is only available for a limited time.

Specifically for mobile apps, marketers have traditionally had to submit changes to the app stores, which can take four to six weeks to go live and forces consumers to update an app.

Rue La La began working with Artisan a few months ago to optimize designs within the mobile app in real-time without submitting a change to the app store.

Ninety-six percent of Rue La La’s app users have an iOS device, which is where the retailer pours its mobile focus. There is also an Android app that Rue La La is testing.

One of Rue La La’s key learnings in A/B testing is that more people clicked to checkout in Rue La La’s app when the call-to-action button was moved up 12 pixels. The retailer moved the button to be centered two-thirds of the way down the page instead of running along the bottom of a page.

In addition to moving the ‘buy now’ button up the page, the creative has also been changed from a gray color to a red.

Rue La La is also looking to do more testing through the holiday around seasonal creative and colors.

“A/B testing is huge for us – we’re a very test-oriented company, and we have learned a lot,” Mr. McGoldrick said.

“Everything we do from an advertising and marketing perspective, we do several versions to see, ‘OK, what works here?’” he said.

Rue La La’s iPhone app

Contextualizing content

With more retailers putting heavier investments into mobile this holiday season, A/B testing is a big tactic that retailers will use to squeeze the most out of their mobile apps.

Depending on a marketer’s goal, there are several areas to prioritize A/B testing during the holidays specifically, according to Bob Moul, CEO of Artisan, Philadelphia.

If the goal is to affect top-of-funnel conversions, holiday-oriented texts can be tweaked to encourage consumers to create the much-coveted account that gives retailers a better understanding of where and when a shopper is buying.

At the mid-funnel level, testing social sharing features in different sizes and positions is a good starting point in triggering consumers to share content.

Bottom-of-funnel efforts can mix up in-app images. For example, a graphic promoting time-sensitive shipping information makes more sense to leverage during the holidays than at other times of the year.

“Although companies should always be testing, the holidays really are an essential time to execute an effective testing strategy – these insights can help brands capitalize on their most profitable time of year,” Mr. Moul said.

“Also, the learnings from holiday tests can provide great raw material for testing throughout the following year,” he said.

Mobile testings
Other retailers are also pushing their mobile efforts up a notch more this holiday season since the approach is based on performance and insights.

Eamon Boyle, managing director of data intelligence at Havas Discovery, Glen Allen, VA, said the impact of A/B testing can go up as much as 30 percent and the minimal percentage of influence is 10 percent.

Although conversion is certainly a primary objective, A/B testing also improves the customer experience, and with mobile consumers increasingly becoming more persnickety, creating content that simply increases engagement or time spent within an app is also important.

“A/B testing is the simplest, most direct and most efficient method [of optimizing mobile experiences,],” Mr. Boyle said.

“This approach allows for the testing of an entire mobile experience or individual pages, tile placement, carts or even offers,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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