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.
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 conversions.
You can actually increase the visibility of your CTAs in a number of distinct ways:
(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.
(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 page. When experimenting with color, your goal shouldn’t be to find that one, specific, magical color that will increase your conversions; instead, you just need to stand out better.
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 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 conversions.
(Image Source: Pebble)
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. Though in principle, a conversion 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 salespeople 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 platforms these days are able to offer one-click purchasing, or something analogous, to make the online 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.
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 conversions, 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 visitors, 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.
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.
(Image Source: VWO)
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 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:
(Image Source: KissMetrics)
Marketing Experiments has a great example of how changing a stock image to an original image can boost your conversion rates immediately.
(Image Source: Marketing Experiments)
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 social proof in your CTA or landing page: reviews and testimonials. Though related, these are two distinct forms of content submitted by your past customers. 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 page (or testimonials to your lead generation page) can have a substantial impact on your conversion rate.
(Image Source: VWO)
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 a page, 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.
(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).
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 optimization strategy:
There are countless variables to consider in a conversion 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.
Throughout this section, I’ve been listing a number of different considerations for increasing your 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. Your brand, your voice, your audience, and your goals will all be different from everyone else’s. The “best practices” for conversion 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.