Color. It surrounds us. It’s present in almost every second of our waking lives. You see it now as you read this black and white page, although unaware.
You’re not alone: very few people realize what a profound influence color has on the subconscious. Color shapes our likes dislikes and, crucially for eCommerce, our choices.
Yet, as large a role that color plays in the physical world, it plays an even bigger role in the digital space.
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the data to understand how much of an impact color really has on our choices when we shop online.
We’ll provide real-life case studies to support our assertions and conclude by giving some actionable advice on how to leverage color in your webshop.
Are you excited?
Me too. Because armed with these actionable insights and theoretical knowledge, you’ll be able to wield the power of color masterfully.
You heard it here first: Using the right colors on your site in the right places will help drive conversion rates.
So without further ado, here we go!
How Big Of A Role Does Color Really Play In Buying Decisions?
Color plays a huge part in our subconscious decision making (more on that here). But don’t just take our word for it. In fact, there exists robust and varied research that backs up this seemingly audacious claim.
Analytics company Loyalty Square found that:
- 84.7% of respondents think that color is more important than many other factors while choosing products for buying.
Award-winning marketing agency Zero Above supports this and found that, on average, people make a subconscious judgment about a product within ninety seconds of seeing it for the first time.
And “up to 90% of that (subconscious) judgment is based on color alone.”
Moreover, QuickSprout research found that “85% of shoppers say that color is a primary reason for buying a product.”
Not such an audacious claim, after all! Needless to say, color is a big deal.
Real Life Studies That Show The Impact Of Color On Conversions
We know that it’s fine and dandy to give you stats showing how color strongly correlates with buying decisions and, thus, conversion rates.
But we also understand that nothing will drive the fact home more than real-life examples of companies whose large conversion increases were a result of color changes on their sites.
So let's cut to the chase.
As reported by Hubspot, Performable changed the color of their main CTA (call to action) button which led to a 21% increase in conversion rates.
All other elements on the page stayed constant, and only the color of the button was changed.
Similarly, as reported by VWO, Ript Apparel changed their CTA button color from green to yellow, resulting in a 6.3% increase in sales.
Additionally, a test run by company DMIX tested both green and red CTAs on 600 subjects, finding that using the red button caused a conversion increase of an astonishing 34%.
Yes, you read that correctly. 34% increased CR!
An example from the offline world that really crystallizes the tremendous effect that color can have on sales is that of Heinz.
As reported by ColorCom, when Heinz changed the color of their signature ketchup from red to green, sales went through the roof!
They sold 10 million bottles within the first 7 months of the change, resulting in $23 million in sales.
At the time it was the single largest sales increase in the company’s history - but this sudden desire for green ketchup bottles could have coincided with the release of Shrek, hence kids flocking to the new design.
Be warned: timing is important.
More important suggestions are revealed below….
So keep reading!
How you can harness the influence of color psychology for subconscious marketing
Has the data convinced you that color has a big impact on purchasing behavior online?
Now you may find yourself wondering (and rightly so) – how can I better utilize color to increase the conversion rates on my eCommerce site?
Let me answer that question for you in only 3 easy steps.
1) Establish Your Target Market/Demographic
This might sound odd in the context of this article, especially to those that expected us to provide a list of colors and what they mean online.
But allow us to explain: Different types of people are influenced by different colors in different ways.
This fact is acutely evident when looking at the above case studies. Namely, for Performable, it was changing the CTA button from green to red that led to an uplift in conversions.
Yet, for Ript Apparel, it was changing the color from green to yellow which led to greater uplift.
To explore this idea further, research by Joe Hallock shows that men and women have an affinity and attraction to different colors:
Women have a strong affinity to blue, purple and green, whereas for men blue, green and black are the most preferred. The difference is subtle but significant.
This gender difference in color preference is also supported by research from Philip Cohen at the University of Maryland, who surveyed two thousand men and women. The results are below.
Read more about the differences between men and women online shopping behaviors.
What research like this shows is that there is no “one size fits all” set of rules that link specific colors to increased conversion rates. If there were, all eCommerce sites would use the same colors to capitalize on this. Then those colors would soon cease to have the same positive effects due to peoples over-exposure to them, diminishing returns.
There are, however, colors that on the whole work better than others for different industries and demographics.
By strongly defining your target market/demographic and even customer personas, you can then find out which colors align with your high-valued segments and leverage this for eCommerce.
So, what’s next?
2) Understand Color Theory & Color Psychology
When it comes down to it, different colors influence different people.
The color scheme that is most effective in driving conversions will thus depend on your target demographic and industry sector.
Yes, you have to get to know your audience better before making any assumptions not backed by customer-data.
Despite this, however, it’s safe to say that there exists an accepted set of colors that are worth knowing and exploring.
The color combinations that will increase conversions for your site, no matter the target demographic or industry, will almost always adhere to some color theory principles. And these principles are based on extensive research underlying human psychology.
These are worth knowing!
Understanding why a specific color or color combination has a positive or negative effect on purchase decisions will determine your company’s maturity.
How would you do that?
Within the field of color theory is color psychology: We highly recommend learning at least the main tenets of color psychology, as they will help you understand how specific colors impact mood among different demographics.
Mood and emotion are correlated with conversions because purchase decisions are emotionally driven.
Check out Robert Plutchick's Wheel of Emotions, which visually pictures the correlation between different colors and the emotions we attached to those colors.
Pretty cool, right? Learn, understand, and….
3) Test, Test, Test.
As has been stressed several times, when it comes to which colors increase conversions, there are, unfortunately, no universal rules.
The color changes that will lead to increased conversions for your eCommerce site will be largely dependent on your target audience’s demographic profile (age, gender, occupation, etc.), as well as the industry your company is in.
Therefore, it is evident that in order to find out which colors work most effectively for your business, you will have to test a number of different colors and color combinations to see which ones drive behavior whilst singling out the ones that don’t.
Remember: negative results are still results.
We won’t waste any time here extolling the benefits of A/B testing as we are sure you already know them, but we would strongly suggest this testing method when running your color tests.
Most importantly, we recommend running the A/B tests after you have strongly established who your target market is and have some understanding of color theory/psychology. ￼
Why not run the A/B tests first?
Well, once you have established the target demographic and understand color psychology, then you can conduct a more narrow range of tests that have the best chance of yielding positive results.
This way, you will run tests based on research specific to your target market, and build relevance as an eCommerce brand.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you from running tests outside of your research.
As has been shown in our case study section of this article, you never know which colors and color combinations may work well.
Sometimes, it can be the least expected ones that will increase conversions.
More mature testing to deliver enhanced analytics can be done using AI and ML (which is how we do it here at Crobox). Multivariate testing allows us to test many things at once and define which messages (including colors) work best for the e-shopper.
- Color influences people’s decisions and thus your site's conversion rates as shown by the statistics and examples above.
- There are a number of real-life case studies from other online companies where direct color changes saw a large increase in conversion rates.
Finally, we provided practical steps that you can take to harness the power of color and successfully run color based tests on your site to uncover the color(s) and/or color combination(s) that result in higher conversion rates for you. ￼
Optimizing conversions doesn’t just stop at color: try changing and experimenting with copy, button-locations, nudges, social media, campaigns, and so much more to deliver your shoppers the best and most personalized experience of your web-store.
We all want to provide seamless shopping experiences that keep the customer coming back for more, right?
It starts with that one thing that is everywhere, yet we take for granted.