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  • How to Improve Online Conversion Rates

    How to Improve Online Conversion Rates

    What is the conversion rate? In the most basic sense, the conversion rate is the percentage of people who take the desired action. For example, if 100 people visit your website and 10 buy something, your conversion rate would be 10%. Conversion rates are significant because they help you track how effective your site or marketing campaign is at achieving its goal. If your conversion rate is low, people are not responding to your call to action. There are several ways to improve your conversion rate, including optimizing your site visitors for conversion, testing different calls to action, and segmenting your audience. By increasing your conversion rate, you can boost leads and sales and ultimately grow your business.

    Now that we’ve covered most of the basics, we can move on to focus specifically on getting higher conversion rates. This section of the guide will explain how to increase the number of people who end up taking meaningful action—whether that’s buying a product, filling out a form, or micro-converting, as most of these different types can benefit from the same best practices.

    I’ll be covering a number of different sections here, each with examples of their effective use.

    Make Your CTA Visible

    Your first step is to make your call to action more visible. This should be obvious; after all, how are people going to convert if they’re never given the direct opportunity? Yet many marketers and webmasters end up with CTAs that don’t stand out in any meaningful way. This often represents a huge loss in potential customer conversions.

    You can actually increase the visibility of your CTAs in a number of distinct ways:

    • Frequency. Visibility is all about increasing the chances that one of your visitors will encounter a CTA, so one of the easiest solutions is to create more CTAs throughout your site. Make sure there’s at least one CTA on every web page—which you can ensure by keeping a signup form in the footer—and do some UX testing to make sure every user encounters an opportunity to convert at least once. The only caveat is to make sure you aren’t spamming your visitor’s interactions; if they feel like you’re shoving conversion rates in their faces, they’re not going to want to engage with you. This is where your multifaceted approach will come in handy; you can ask for direct purchases, information for lead generation, and email subscriptions all separately so you’re not asking the same thing over and over.
    • Location. The placement of your CTAs is also important. I mentioned having a running CTA opportunity in the footer, but this isn’t very visible when compared to other locations (it’s just a good way to guarantee at least one conversion opportunity per web page). The old advice was to keep your CTA above the fold, no matter what, meaning your CTA should be visible immediately, without scrolling. However, this approach is a bit outdated. In fact, heat map studies suggest that some CTAs are better off when they’ve placed a short scroll map down from the top of the web page.

    cta above the fold

    (Image Source: Unbounce)

    The truth is, there’s no “right” or “wrong” place for your CTA, as long as it stands out and catches your users’ attention. This can be hard to discover, and you probably won’t get it quite right the first time, so play around with different locations and see how it affects your results.

    • Coloration. Coloration is also significant, especially when you look at the actual button users click when completing the conversion rates action. There are a lot of psychological studies that seem to suggest that some colors have different effects than others, or that some colors are “better” for conversion rates. For example, Hubspot sometimes demonstrates this example, where changing the color of two buttons (and keeping everything else the same) from green to red spurred an enormous increase conversions.

    cta coloration

    (Image Source: Hubspot)

    There’s no question that these results are real. However, the cause of this can be a bit misleading. It’s not the red coloration that made this CTA more effective, but rather the fact that the color stood out more in contrast with the rest of the home page. When experimenting with color, your goal shouldn’t be to find that one, specific, magical color that will increase your conversion rates; instead, you just need to stand out better.

    • Directional Cues. You can also make your CTAs stand out by using directional cues; these are visuals that help guide users’ eyes, often unwittingly, toward the conversion rates opportunity. For example, you might include an arrow pointing to the main CTA, or use color to provide a directional guide to it. You can also go even subtler, by using photographs of people who happen to be looking in the CTA’s direction. Such a change may not seem that significant, but it can have a double-digit growth effect on your conversion rates.

    Offer a Strong Value

    The core of any conversion is an exchange of value. Your users are going to give you something, and in return, they expect to get something. For product purchases, this system is obvious and straightforward; your potential customers are giving you money in exchange for a product they believe to be worth at least that much. But the value exchange is present when users hand over their personal information, too, such as in an email signup or form submission. That’s because personal information has a value, and users know this.

    Users aren’t going to convert unless your exchange is valuable. Therefore, you need to offer a stronger value if you’re going to see more conversion rates.

    • Prove your worth or offer something. You have two main options here, depending on the type of conversion funnel you’re after. If you’re trying to get a lead or an email subscriber, you’re going to have to offer something in exchange for their information. For example, you might offer a complimentary download of an eBook or other valuable offer. You might also promise a free proposal or free consultation in exchange for reaching out. On the product side, you’re already offering something, only this time it’s in exchange for money, so you’ll have to prove the value of your item. There are a few ways to do this, but to start, think about what unique value proposition it is you’re really offering.
    • Bullet-point lists. One of the best ways to communicate the value proposition of product pages is through the use of bullet-point lists. You could go for a paragraph-style approach, detailing the item, but remember—people make higher conversion rate decisions quickly. You need to convey as much information as you can in the smallest possible space. Bullet points help you organize this information so it’s easy to pick up and easy on the eyes. For a product, choose the top unique benefits to include here. For a special offer, like a consultation or a free piece of content, be sure to list the advantages. You can see Pebble using the technique here:

    Bullet Points List for Product Features

    (Image Source: Pebble)

    • Sweeten the pot. Sometimes, even a good product or a valuable exchange isn’t enough to help consumers finalize their decisions. They may be hesitant, or they may question whether the exchange is truly valuable enough to pursue. One of the best things you can do is sweeten the pot with some additional value—over and above what you originally offered. For example, you might “slash your price” to show that purchasing your product now is less expensive than it normally is.
    • Offer more information for those who want it. Brevity is one of the most important elements of a successful google analytics, onine marketing campaigns , and conversion optimization is no exception to that rule. When introducing your products or services, you’ll want to be as brief and concise as possible. However, there will be users who want more information before they buy. How can you resolve this seeming contradiction? The best course of action is to be as brief as possible, but also offer information to those willing to seek it, such as introducing a live chat window or posting links to your main site, where users can learn more.

    Make It Easy

    You’ve made your CTA visible, and you’ve proven your worth. The next thing you should think about is the actual process of conversion optimization. Though in principle, a website conversion rate optimization is often as simple as clicking a button, the reality is, you can make the process as simple or as complicated as you want it. Unfortunately, many marketers opt to make it more complicated than it has to be, often with logical intentions.

    For example, they may produce form fields that demand a lot of input from the user; when trying to earn more leads, the more information you can get, the better. Getting information like previous purchase history, current interests, and background can help your sales people close more deals (and can give you more information to work with from a market research perspective). However, as a general rule, people are impatient and will greatly prefer forms with fewer fields to fill out. Whatever you can do to simplify your form, do it. Believe it or not, shaving off just a few extra seconds of effort can make the difference to a prospective lead.

    In a similar vein, you’ll want to make sure your checkout process is simple as well. Most ecommerce site these days are able to offer one-click purchasing, or something analogous, to make the online store shopping process simpler. You don’t have to do this, but you should reduce the number of steps it takes to check out to the bare minimum.

    Ensure Proper Functionality

    This is another piece of advice that should go without saying, but make sure your forms and shopping carts are working properly! Do a test run of your form to make sure the fields can be filled out easily and submitted without error, and make sure you get an email notification as well—I’ve worked with clients in the past who simply weren’t getting notification of their website conversion rates, and they’ve missed a lot of opportunities as a result.

    Beyond that, you’ll want to use a platform like Mobiletest.me to test how your CTAs, forms, and products look on various mobile devices and browsers. Take note of any significant differences that could bear an impact on your potential customers, and correct them proactively. The most important things to worry about here are content loading issues—make sure all your content and visuals are loading properly, and in a way that’s accessible to the user.

    Write Compelling Headlines and Copy

    I already mentioned the importance of being brief when it comes to selling the value of your offer, but now let’s focus on some of the bigger stars of your CTAs—your headlines, taglines, and filler copy. Headlines are what will grab your users’ attention immediately, and it’s responsible for forming the first impression they’ll get of your brand, so take some extra time to craft the perfect, attention-grabbing, reputation building message.

    Easier said than done, right? Here are a few tips to help you through the process.

    • Don’t over-sell. This is the first trap most novice conversion optimizers fall into. When crafting your headlines and copy, you’ll be selling your goods and services, so you’ll want to make it sound as appealing as possible. However, this sometimes lends itself to a certain tone of voice that comes off as pushy or tacky. For example, a line like “you won’t believe what this product can do!” might sound like a good way to cultivate interest, but it’s both overused and overly salesy. Modern consumers are discerning and naturally distrustful of online advertising, so you’ll have to tone it down if you want to gain their trust.
    • Be concise and straightforward. As an alternate route, it’s far better to be concise and straightforward about your offer. Don’t try to overhype it or build trust to be bigger than it is; if your product is good enough to be sold, try letting it sell itself. Be descriptive here, and as accurate as possible, but don’t use ambiguous language or inflated terms to push your product. For example, describing a chef’s knife as “strong, durable, and comfortable,” would probably be more appealing to something sensationalized like “the world’s most amazing knife—you won’t know what you did without it!”
    • Highlight the problem and solution. You’re solving some type of problem, or else you wouldn’t be in business. It might be that your product addresses some critical consumer need, or it might be that your service can make your clients’ lives easier. Whatever it is, you need to identify that problem and bring it to the forefront. Make sure people know what the problem you’re solving is; this is psychologically valuable because it serves as a kind of one-two punch, making users realize they have a need, and then addressing that need with your chosen solution.
    • Imply a degree of urgency. As I mentioned before, users have notoriously short attention spans. There’s a high probability that, once on your site or landing page, a user may spontaneously lose interest and click away to do something else. Also, if a user feels they can safely delay their decision, they may feel comfortable walking away—and even if they have the best intentions, it’s unlikely that they’ll return. Accordingly, your copy should convey some degree of urgency. Phrasing like “try it today” or “act now” help transition people to the “now or never” mentality. Using strong action-based words also helps; a change as simple as adding the words “get started” can yield a double-digit increase in website conversion rates:

    degree of urgency

    (Image Source: VWO)

    Include Images and Videos

    Written content alone isn’t enough; not all of your users will want to read to understand the benefits of your exchange. It’s also valuable to include images and video to influence more increase conversions , especially on a landing page. However, as you might imagine, not just any images and videos will work. Here are some tips to help you use images and video effectively:

    • Use real people. First, try to use real people in your images. Seeing another human face can greatly increase conversion rates. The psychology behind this isn’t precise—it could be a trust factor to see another human being, or it could just be positive associations (since most people are either smiling or having a good time in these types of images). If you don’t believe me, check out this case study from KissMetrics; granted, there are a handful of changes that have been committed at once, but the biggest one is adding a picture of a human being—and increase conversions went up by 100 percent.

    use real people photos

    (Image Source: KissMetrics)

    • Call to emotions. It’s a good idea to call to user emotions in your images and videos. For starters, if you have google analytics, people involved, make sure they’re smiling, laughing, or otherwise clearly enjoying themselves. This creates an emotional resonance, even if it’s only slight, that makes your product seem more positive. You can also influence emotions by sympathizing with negative situations; for example, you could show off your product in a video that highlights the key problem your product is meant to solve.
    • Be unique. If you’re creating images and videos around a given product, you won’t have to worry about going out of your way to be unique; you’re already doing something original. However, most service-based companies and other businesses looking for a quick image fix may seek out stock photos or other low-hanging image fruit to fill in the gaps. Stock photography isn’t inherently bad, but it is often cheesy and unnatural—not to mention your users have probably seen the same images all over the web. If you want a higher website conversion rate, you need visuals that make you stand out.

    Online Marketing Experiments has a great example of how changing a stock image to an original image can boost your conversion rates immediately.

    Marketing Experiments

    (Image Source: Marketing Experiments)

    • Show off your offer. Show off your offer as completely as possible to make sure users see the value in it. For products, this means showing images of your product from multiple angles, and video that demonstrates your product in action. For offers like a free proposal or an eBook, showing off an example, or a sample chapter could be a good way to show people what they’re actually getting. This insight can help people make up their minds—plus it gives them a sense of trust and familiarity with your products and services.

    Offer Social Proof

    Most people have an inherent distrust for corporations and brands, or at the very least, they tend to trust their peers more than organizations that are clearly out to make a profit. About 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews submitted by their peers as much as they’d trust a personal recommendation from a friend or family member—which is somewhat surprising, if you think about it. But the bottom line here is that most people need some kind of social proof, some evidence that you’ve been making exchanges with other users satisfactorily, before they’ll commit to your brand in any way.

    Social proof, therefore, should be one of your top priorities. There are a couple of easy ways to instill more multiple tests in your call to action or landing page: reviews and testimonials. Though related, these are two distinct forms of content strategy submitted by your past potential customers. Third party reviews are generally short, descriptive analyses of a past purchase or interaction, often based on a product or service. Testimonials, on the other hand, are generally longer, serving as a pitch for a company or organization as a whole.

    As you can see in this example by VWO, simply adding a handful of reviews to your product landing pages (or testimonials to your lead generation landing pages) can have a substantial impact on your conversion rate optimization.


    (Image Source: VWO)

    Cultivate Trust

    Social proof can go a long way in cultivating more trust from your new user base, but you’ll usually have to go a step or two further if you really want to earn your users’ dedication. One of the simplest ways to do this is to add “trust badges” to the bottom of your site. These small icons, usually located in the footer of landing pages, show users your affiliations and accreditations, demonstrating your authority (and possibly your security). VWO found that adding trust badges can increase your conversion rates by more than 70 percent.

    Cultivate Trust

    (Image Source: The New Media Co)

    You can also build trust by showing off your expertise. For example, you can list all the major publications you and your brand have been featured in. You could also show off how long you’ve been in business, how much growth you’ve experienced over the years, or list some of your most noteworthy clients (assuming they’ve given you the permission to mention them).

    Understand Variables

    In addition to all the factors I listed above, there are a handful of other variables you should keep in mind when planning, executing, and evaluating the success of your conversion rate optimization strategy:

    • Timing. The timing of your efforts can play a significant role in the type of results you see. For example, if you’re a landscaper, you’ll probably see far more increase conversions (and organic traffic ) in summer months than winter months. You may also see spikes in conversion rate optimization activity around certain times of the day or certain days of the week. Keep this information in mind, and make bigger pushes during peak times.
    • Traffic sources. Your sources of traffic will play an enormous role in how effective your measure conversion rate optimization strategy is, because different sources will send different types of people to your site. My next big section focuses on audience optimization and target audience , so if you’re interested in learning more, skip down.
    • Associations. Certain elements of your call to action may cause different effects in different people. For example, an image that seems warm and welcoming to some may seem frightening or alienating to another. There’s no easy way to compensate for this, other than by constant experimentation to find more images and elements that are acceptable to everyone.

    There are countless variables to consider in landing pages average conversion rate optimization plan, but for the most part, it’s best to stay out of the weeds. Keep your attention high-level, on your actions and your measurable results.

    Ignore Best Practices

    Throughout this section, I’ve been listing a number of different considerations for increasing your average conversion rate—the best practices for conversion optimization. I have one more best practice to share with you, and it’s a little bit counterintuitive: ignore best practices (at least some of the time).

    What do I mean by this? Why did I waste my time writing out and showing examples of all these best practices if I’m now encouraging you to deliberately ignore them? It’s because every business is going to be unique conversion rate optimization. Your brand, your voice, your target audience , and your goals will all be different from everyone else’s. The “best practices” for measure conversion rate optimization are rules that work well for most brands—but not all the time. If you stick too closely to norms and conventional practices, not only will you miss out on some great improvement opportunities, your conversion attempts will end up looking like everyone else’s—and that’s definitely something you don’t want.

    Go against the grain by defying some of the standard conventions, as long as you have a good idea to substitute for the original best practice. As you’ll see, the more you experiment, the closer you can get to perfection.

    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) services - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing, assisting in everything from SEO for lawyers to complex technical SEO for Fortune 500 clients like Wiley, Box.com, Qualtrics and HP.

    Tim holds expertise in building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

    When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter