What irony! The best-known quote about badges refers to “stinking badges” despite the fact that badges are generally not stinky. In fact, they are almost always a good thing. From merit badges to badges of honor, most real world connotations have been positive. And now digital badges are proving both positive and helpful to e-commerce.
I’m talking about the badges you see on retail websites. These online store badges say things like: New Arrival; Staff Favorite; Special Value; and Top Pick. (The example on the left is from one of our clients, Freshpair, whose site sports one of the great e-commerce taglines: “buy underwear in your underwear”.)
Placing badges on product shots can make a big difference to the way shoppers interact with your site. In fact, whenever our clients have introduced badging the effects have been positive (defined as an increase in conversion rate, an increase in average order value, or both). In my opinion the most likely reason for this is that…badges help online shoppers to make choices. In the early days of online shopping it was sometimes a challenge for shoppers to find anything close to what they were looking to buy. These days the opposite can be true: so many possibilities that it’s hard to decide which one(s) to add to the cart.
Now, if you’re running an ecommerce site that has brought a wealth of choices to the online consumer you probably feel quite proud of this accomplishment. That is understandable, but now is the time to ask whether or not this abundance has created its own challenges, namely getting the consumer to make a decision. Consider a typical in-store search result page:
This could easily be the first six items out of dozens of results. If you are looking for a very specific shirt you might spot it and click through to buy it, but when shoppers are working from a loose set of parameters—which is often the case—a little direction can prove very helpful. Consider these badged results:
It is only natural for your eyes to be drawn to the results that are badged, increasing the probability that you will click on those items first (all the metrics that we have tracked bear that out).
When used appropriately, badging clearly works. So how do you implement it? The answer will depend on the tools you have available. Basically you need to set some rules for site content along these lines:
If PID=X, then overlay Badge Image Y,
when displaying Product Shot for PID=X,
where Page Type=Z
You will need a table that lists the Product Identification Numbers of the items that you want badged along with information about the badge creatives you want to use (e.g. Staff_Pick.png, New_Arrival.png, and so on). Then you need to establish rules in your content management platform that instruct it to overlay the images on the appropriate pages (e.g. Site_Search_Results, Brand_Search_Results, and so on).
Bear in mind that you may not want to badge every instance of a particular product shot. I suggest you test badging on a small number of products, or within a particular product category, before rolling it out site-wide. Perhaps target an under-performing segment, for example, if you see people doing a lot more searching than buying, for a particular product or brand, show them some badging and see if that moves the needle.
And if you find that badging is moving the needle, be careful not to overdo it. Watch your control groups as you roll out more badging; make sure the effects remain positive. While there are no strict rules for badging you probably don’t want to badge every product (this can lead to “badge-fatigue” and diminishing returns). However, when used wisely, there is no down side to badging; badges not only improve the site experience and performance, they help your customers make more satisfying purchases.
I can almost hear online shoppers out there shouting: Yes! We need those ******** badges!
(To learn more about how to badge products with Monetate, just type the word “badges” in the message section of our Contact form. To find out more than you ever needed to know about “stinking badges” visit the Wikipedia page and the Stinking Badges home page).