Traffic acquisition is becoming more and more expensive as time goes on.
Whether you are leveraging paid advertising, content marketing, or SEO, you are spending time on growing your traffic.
That means you are spending money.
To make your traffic acquisition profitable, you have to figure out how to get your visitors to convert into customers.
If you can figure out how to increase your conversion rate, you’ll have more money to spend on marketing, which will help you beat your competitors.
So what do you do?
It’s simple. You should spend some time optimizing your site for conversions.
To get started you should take a look at these 36 expert conversion rate tips below.
These expert tips will assist you in prioritizing your tests and in deciding what to test first.
1. Why You Should Run A/B Tests Instead Of Multivariate Tests
There are two main types of tests you can run: A/B tests and multivariate tests.
In an A/B test, you run version A(the control) against version B(the challenger) to see which one has a higher conversion rate. You then send an equal amount of traffic to each to see which one improves conversions. That’s the basic definition of an A/B conversion test.
With a multivariate test, you evaluate multiple differences to see what impact they have instead of only testing different page versions. For example, you may want to test the headline on a site and the call to action copy with four different variations of each. Since you’ll need to test all the combinations, this would lead to 16 different variations (4 x 4). Instead of running version A against version B, you’ll run all 16 variations to see which one leads to the highest number of conversions.
The 2008 Obama presidential campaign tested three images, three videos, and four call to action button copy versions for a total of 24 different variations (6 media X 4 buttons), which led to a winning version that increased newsletter sign ups by 40.6%.
This may seem like a great idea, and it is if you have the time and traffic to run a multivariate test along with the experience needed to run one, but it’s not if you’re just getting started with conversion rate optimization. An A/B test is much more simple and much better for getting your feet wet. It also requires less traffic to find statistically significant results. That’s reason number one not to conduct multivariate tests.
The second reason is that you don’t always get the results that a multivariate test says you’ll get. I’ve taken the winning elements from multivariate tests and made them the default version, but in every case, the final version didn’t lead to the improvement the testing tool indicated. I’ve tried it with multiple tools and have had statistically significant results, but the results never turned into huge revenue increases once the changes were implemented.
So not only is A/B testing more simple and easier for getting started, it’s also more likely to lead to accurate results that will positively affect your bottom line.
2. Remember To Optimize For Revenue, Not Just Conversions
Improving conversions is great, but generating more revenue is even better.
When you begin running tests, you’ll learn that a conversion decrease can actually increase revenue. The #1 way this can happen is when you increase prices.
In addition to improving conversion rates, you also want to test different price points to see which prices lead to the most revenue.
For example, assume you sell hats online. When 1,000 people visit your site, 5% convert into paying customers. Since you make an average of $10.00 for every hat sold, you make $500 in revenue for every 1,000 visitors.
One day you decide to raise your prices to $20.00 per hat. Due to the price increase, the conversion rate lowers to 3% which means out of 1,000 visitors, 30 turn into customers. However, in this second scenario, your revenue is $600 for every thousand people that visit your website. Even though your conversion rate went down from 5% to 3%, you still make more money by raising your prices.
So when optimizing your site, you want to pay attention to revenue, and not just conversion rate increases because raising conversion rates is great but increasing revenue is even better.
3. Big Changes Lead To Big Wins
In the book A/B Testing, authors Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen present two concepts: a local maxima and a global maximum.
With a local maxima, you use incremental tweaks to optimize conversions for the current version of your site. To find a global maximum, you test completely different versions of your site to find a new version that converts at a higher rate than your local maxima. Once the new maximum is found, you can use incremental tests to optimize that version even further.
The benefit of searching for a global maximum before optimizing incrementally is that big changes lead to bigger wins. If you’re just making one-word button copy and headline changes, then you’re likely to improve conversions 10%, 15%, or 20% at a time. Sometimes you can get break-through results with small tests like this, but for the most part you’ll only make small incremental improvements.
But with a big change, you can get a 50% or a 115% increase in conversions. Then, once you’re getting much better results, you can run incremental tests to refine the new version even further. Yes, even small improvements add up over time, but you’re more likely to get a big win by testing for a new global maximum.
Another option is to start with small tests as low hanging fruit. You can test new headlines, new button copy, and new images, but eventually, you’ll notice that all of the small changes stop having a big impact on your conversion rates. It’s not that the small changes aren’t important, it’s just that you’ve taken care of all the low-hanging fruit that is preventing people from converting.
The best chance of significantly boosting conversion rates and revenue is to test drastic changes. You can change up your sign-up process, test a free trial, etc. Most of these changes won’t work out, but some will have a positive impact. When you get creative with trying entirely new versions of your site, you have a better chance of significantly boosting revenue.
For example, I tested changing the contact page at Quick Sprout into an infographic. This tripled the number of contact requests I received. If I had stuck with incremental changes, I probably would have never tripled conversions no matter how successful the tests were.
This is a sample of what the infographic contact page looks like on Quick Sprout.
4. Don’t Expect To Get A Win Every Time
Something else you need to keep in mind is that you won’t get a conversion win every single time. When you read case studies online, it seems like every test leads to a 40% or 50% increase in conversions, but that’s not always the case.
Most businesses only get a few wins each year that significantly generate more revenue. Those wins are worth the time you invest in CRO or the money you spend on consultants, but you won’t get a win every time.
It’s important to know that you have to invest time and money into CRO in order to see a good return on your investment. You shouldn’t expect your CRO consultant to double revenue in two months, but if you do commit to conversion testing, you can expect to get a handful of wins each year that will affect your bottom line.
CRO is a long-term investment, which means you shouldn’t expect to double your conversion rates overnight. Plan to see a return in about six months, and expect to be cashflow positive on your CRO investment after one year.
5. Never Stop Testing
Before you start optimizing your site, you may wonder how many tests you’ll need to run. Surely five or six tests will uncover all of the improvements you can make, right?
While this may be the case for some sites, it’s more likely that you can continue optimizing indefinitely. There are hundreds of tests you can run for the current version of your site, and each new page you add provides another testing opportunity.
The best approach to CRO is to make a commitment for the long term. Once you start testing, you should continue testing. There’s always room for more improvement, and every change or new page needs to be tested until it’s optimized to improve conversion rates for your business. There really isn’t a stopping point when it comes to conversion rate optimization; it’s more of a commitment to see how much more revenue you can generate for your business with CRO.
Crazy Egg is a great example of this. I hired Conversion Rate Experts to work on Crazy Egg, and they improved conversions by 363% on a site that was already optimized and well run.
This is the original version of the Crazy Egg homepage before Conversion Rate Experts helped to improve conversions by 363%.
So how did they do it? First, they created a homepage challenger that was 20 times longer than the current version. The new longer version improved conversions by 30%.
Next, they helped to create an explainer video for the homepage that explained what Crazy Egg is and how it works. The new video increased conversions by 64%.
The last step was to improve the checkout page so that it had more explanation and addressed the biggest objections customers had at that point. The new checkout page increased conversions by 116%.
This is the top half of the new checkout page designed by CRE.
When you combine all of these results, you get a 363% increase in conversion rates. CRE also suggested a test for an annual subscription that generated even more revenue for Crazy Egg by offering a 40% discount to customers that pay for an annual subscription. All of these results combined lead to significantly more revenue for Crazy Egg, and they’re still testing to find even better results.
If a site like Crazy Egg can improve conversions by 363% and still continue testing, you should too. There’s really no end to the results you can achieve if you base your tests on data you acquire from customers and best practices found from around the web.
6. Run An A/A Test First
Before running an A/B test, you should run an A/A test to verify the accuracy of your testing software. All of the reputable softwares should work correctly, but it’s possible to get an inaccurate reading for one reason or another. You might see an increase in conversions of 30% to 40% during your test only to find out it doesn’t actually increase revenue due to inaccurate results.
If you run an A/A test and the conversions aren’t very similar after around a hundred conversions, then you know your software is off. It’s likely however, that you’ll notice a difference early on. Your test may show that one version performs better than the other in the beginning, but if the software is working properly, this should even out over time until they’re basically the same. If not, you may have a problem with your software or have the test set up improperly.
7. Don’t Take Words For Granted
Copywriters stress how important words are for sales, but not everyone else knows how important they are. Consider this story.
One day an employee at a non-profit placed a bowl of hand-picked oranges on the break-room table for the organization’s staff to eat. The oranges were quite good, but the skin had green patches which didn’t make them look very tasty. After half a day, not a single orange had been eaten. The employee decided to change things up by adding a sign that said, “Free delicious oranges. They taste better than they look. Take one!” Within the hour, all of the oranges were gone.
Did you notice the difference? A bowl full of oranges that wasn’t very appealing can be turned into an appetizing snack by adding a few words strung together into a handful of simple sentences. That’s the power of copy.
So don’t take words for granted on your site.
Switch Video increased conversions by 221% with a one-word button copy change. They increased qualified leads by 221% by changing their call-to-action button from “Get a Free Consultation” to “Get a Free Quote”.
37Signals tested the call-to-action phrase “see pricing and plans” over the phrase “free trial”. They were able to boost signups by 200%, using the former. That’s right, the phrase “see pricing and plans” boosted signups three-fold.
On Quick Sprout, when I added a simple dollar value to the email opt-in box within the sidebar, I was able to increase conversions by 22%.
Don’t take my words for granted… adding or removing words can have a huge impact on your conversion rates. You just have to figure out which words your visitors are sensitive to and start leveraging them.
You never know how changing a headline or adding words like “free” or “trial” to a page can increase conversion rates.
8. Rely On Data Not Opinions
You should rely on data you’ve gathered when coming up with testing ideas, not your opinions. Your tests should be based on comments your customers make and responses they’ve given about what they like or don’t like.
If you don’t base your tests on the data you’ve gathered, you’ll typically run tests that end up failing. Basing a test on your gut feeling is the equivalent of guessing, and it’s a good way to waste time and money on unnecessary tests.
It’s also important to base the changes you make on your site with data. The CEO may want to add a slider to the homepage, but through testing, you can find out whether or not it improves or hurts conversions. If you don’t test, decisions will be made based on whoever has the strongest opinion, not necessarily based on what’s best for your business. Testing helps to solve this problem by making sure every change you make will help you accomplish your business’s goal to make more money.
9. Be Patient
Tests should always be run to at least a 95% likelihood of being a winning variation and for at least 7 days. In addition, you should consider running your test until there are at least 100 conversions.
Sometimes it’s hard to wait this long. You may get a 98% likelihood of a winning variation after two days or before there are 100 conversions, but the problem with this is that the results can change dramatically. A test with a 98% likelihood of winning can turn into a losing variation two days later. You just won’t know that if you don’t run your test long enough, and it’s important that the winning variation can stand up against the test of time since you’re hoping it will increase conversions over the long run.
Time and time again, marketers and conversion consultants have seen a variation start out strong but lose over the course of the testing period. It’s not completely uncommon to have a new variation increase conversions 100% in the first day with a 95% chance of winning only to decrease conversions seven days later with a 0% chance of winning. It can’t be emphasized enough that you can’t trust short-term results. Your test needs to run at least seven days and reach a 95% confidence level, and 100 total conversions with a 99% confidence level is even better.
10. Color Can Make A Difference
Different colors mean different things for customers. Red is more urgent and is often used for sales. Blue on the other hand creates more of a sense of trust and security and is often used for banks and professional businesses. Every color has a different effect on customers.
This infographic from KISSmetrics explains the effect different colors have on customers.
We’ve also previously mentioned Performable found that changing the color of their call-to-action button increased click-throughs by 21%. That’s a 21% macro-conversion increase from only changing the color of a button on a site. You may think that all colors are basically the same, but tests like this have shown that’s not the case.
The red button increased click-throughs on Performable’s site by 21%.
It’s possible in some cases that the right color and shade can increase conversions over another color or another shade. It’s even more possible that the right accent color that stands out from the current theme will increase conversions. You’ll notice in the performable example above that the red is in contrast with the green in the logo. There’s no way to know for sure why red increased conversions, but it may simply be due to the fact that it stands out from the other colors used on the site and draws attention to the CTA.
Another possibility is that one color may be more pleasing or stimulate visitors to take action more than another color. It’s impossible to know how different colors can affect conversions, but it’s worth testing to find out. However, we wouldn’t necessarily make this a high priority test. If you feel for one reason or another that a different color may make a difference, go ahead and give it a try, but if there’s no reason to suspect something’s wrong with your current CTA colors, you may want to make this a lower priority and run other tests before you test the colors on your site.
11. Not Everyone Reads
Some customers like to read while others don’t. Your job is to find out what works for your customers.
Visitors to some sites don’t mind reading 2,000 words of copy as they learn everything they can about a product. Visitors to other sites don’t take the time to read copy and instead prefer getting their information in video form.
Crazy Egg, for example, was able to increase conversions on their homepage 64% by adding an explainer video to describe their product. This shows it’s worth testing both video, images, and different lengths of copy to find out what works best for your customers.
Crazy Egg increased conversions 64% by adding an explainer video to their homepage.
12. Don’t Assume People Won’t Read
In many cases customers will read more than you think, so don’t make the mistake of assuming they won’t. There are cases where short copy converts better than long, and there are other cases where long copy converts better than short. You have to test to find out what works for you.
Basecamp, for example, tested three new versions of their homepage. The first test pitted long-form copy against short, and the longer version increased conversions by 37.5%. They then tested a different short version against the original short version and conversions went up by 102.5%. Thinking that they could combine the two winning versions to make a really awesome version that combined the benefits of the winning long and short variations, they tested a third longer-form version that combined the two winning variations into one. Inexplicably, conversions went down by 22.72%.
So what’s better? Long or short copy? The correct answer is that neither is best in every circumstance. Long copy and longer pages work better for some products and worse for others. And as the Basecamp example shows, different long and short variations can have a vastly different impact. You never know what will work best so you have to try different lengths on your site to see. However, complicated products tend to need more explanation and therefore will need more copy and longer pages.
The winning variation for Basecamp ended up being shorter and using less copy than the original design, but this isn’t always the case.
13. Don’t Overestimate Your Reputation
Just because you think you’re a trustworthy business doesn’t mean your customers are thinking the same thing. And on top of that, people are hesitant to give out their contact information and share their credit card numbers online. You can boost your credibility and trustworthiness by testing different trust elements such as the TRUSTe badge or the BBB seal.
More often than not, you can assume that visitors are hesitant to hand over the contact or credit card information. This is especially true for older visitors. Trust symbols are a great way to put them at ease and to make them comfortable with purchasing from you online.
Trust symbols help to put customers at ease and can increase conversions.
14. Macro Conversions Matter The Most
We’ve already talked about this before, but just because you increase click-throughs from one step to another doesn’t mean you’re going to increase the conversion goal that matters the most: orders. It’s ok to measure micro-conversions and even to test them, but don’t trust your final results to micro-conversion improvements.
Instead, focus on the big picture and pay attention to revenue or orders generated. A macro-conversion improvement is only as good as the impact it has on your bottom line, so don’t get obsessed with small macro-improvements. Just because a version increases click-throughs to your order form doesn’t mean it will lead to more sign-ups. You always want to test macro-conversions to make sure micro-improvement conversions will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
15. Don’t Always Trust Best Practices
It’s considered a best practice to provide social proof such as the number of Facebook fans or e-mail subscribers you have to entice others to join, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Derek Halpern at DIY Themes ran a test where an e-mail sign-up form converted 102% better without social proof than it did with. In this kind of scenario, if you base your changes on best practices, then you could miss out on thousands of e-mail sign-ups over the course of a year or more.
Variation 2 in the middle generated 102% more sign ups than the control on the left.
On other sites, adding social proof significantly improves conversions. So why didn’t it work for DIY themes? There’s really no way to know. The only thing we do know is that the version without social proof led to more conversions which means you can’t always trust advice that’s considered a best practice and need to test every change you make on your site to see how it affects conversion rates.
16. Don’t Assume What Works For Someone Else Will Work For You
Quite often companies base their changes on tests that other companies run, not ones they run themselves. They assume that if a change improves conversions on one site that it will improve conversions on theirs. That’s not a good idea.
Just because something works on one site doesn’t mean it will work on yours. 37 Signals, for example, found that using “See Plans and Pricing” for their CTA copy increased conversions by 200%, but when I tried the same copy on Crazy Egg, it actually decreased conversions. That just goes to show that you can’t assume what works for someone else will work for you. Every site is different, and everyone’s customers react differently to copy, design, colors, layouts, and more. It’s OK to read case studies and base your tests and hypotheses on what worked for someone else, but you always want to conduct your own test to see if the results are duplicated for your site.
37 Signals found that “See Highrise Plans and Pricing” increased conversions but the same copy didn’t work on Crazy Egg.
17. Don’t Stop With The Front End
Sign ups and sales aren’t the only thing you can optimize on your site. It’s a great place to start, but it isn’t the only step worth testing. You can test upsells and ways to get fewer people to cancel their service or to get previous customers to buy something else. You can even use conversion testing to increase your average sale price or to decrease the number of people who cancel their service by getting creative and testing new ways to generate greater loyalty and longer-term customers.
For example, Conversion Rate Experts suggested that Crazy Egg test a 40% discount when customers who were already signed up for a paid account upgraded to a paid annual account. The result was an increase in annual revenue, even though the average monthly revenue went down. This goes to show that front end conversions aren’t the only thing you can test on your site. Changes can be made after the sale to increase revenue and generate greater customer loyalty.
18. Monday Visitors Aren’t The Same As Tuesday
Just because your site converts at one rate on Monday doesn’t mean it will convert the same on Tuesday or over the weekend. Every day is different on a site with weekday and weekend traffic frequently being different. This is another reason why you should run your tests for at least seven days so you can make sure a conversion rate stays consistent across every day of the week.
Not only so, but conversions can change from one week and one day to the next. Your site may convert at 5% one week, 3% the next, and 7% the week after. This has to do with fluctuations in traffic quality, people’s moods based on seasonal differences, etc.
It also explains why you can’t trust before and after tests. A before and after test measures conversions for one week, makes a change, and then tests conversions for the next week. These kinds of tests can’t be trusted because visitors are different each day of the week and traffic quality varies significantly from one week to the next.
19. Show Your Results
When you visit a website, you want to see proof of results, and your customers do too. Case studies and testimonials that show the results you’ve achieved or your product led to are a great way to convince customers to choose you over the competition.
Wikijob.co.uk increased conersion rates 34% by moving testimonials higher up on their page. The testimonials were added to a previous test, but didn’t have as much of an impact when located farther down on the page. By moving them up the page and making them more visible to customers, they were able to increase conversions. This and other tests have shown that the right testimonials used in the right place can have a big impact on conversions.
To show results, you can use testimonials, case studies, and copy to show specific benefits achieved from using your product or service. And the more specific the results are, the more persuasive and beneficial they’ll be.
Wikijobs.co.uk increased conversions by 34% with three well-placed testimonials.
20. What’s usable may not convert the best
I always thought that making things easier for the user would boost conversion rates. Sadly, it doesn’t always work that way.
Crazy Egg’s checkout process used to be one page until Conversion Rate Experts convinced us to test a two-step checkout process. The first step is for the user to put in his or her name and email, and the second is to check out.
Do you know what the results were? A 10% increase in conversions.
The Obama Administration saw similar results with this tactic. When Obama was running for President, his team tested a multiple-step checkout process.
The end result was a 5% increase in conversions. Not bad for a simple design tweak.
The reason I think a multiple-step checkout process works is because once buyers give you some of their information, they feel already committed and have no trouble completing the rest of the checkout.
21. Conversations sell themselves
One of the simplest nudges I’ve tested is creating a conversation with people. If you ever signup for the Quick Sprout newsletter, you will be placed in an email drip sequence. In one of the emails, I ask you to “hit the reply button and tell me what you think of the email”.
Whenever someone hits the reply button, I make sure I always respond to that person and thank him or her for his or her feedback. I am not asking the reader to buy anything, but 71% of those people who reply buy my Quick Sprout Traffic System.
Don’t underestimate the power of having a conversation with your visitors. Whether you connect to your customers through email or even LiveChat, the personal exchange helps because people like buying from people, not from robots. Building a connection with your visitors is a powerful way to nudge them into becoming customers.
One way to help increase the number of conversations you have is to create a warm and fuzzy feeling with your website design. If people feel your company has an open and transparent culture, they are more likely to reach out to you. We actually do this with Crazy Egg by leveraging a French character within our explainer video on the homepage.
Now, doesn’t that animated character make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? It actually is so effective that it drives an extra $21,000 in monthly income.
22. Don’t Worry About Bounce Rates
You always need to know which stats matter and which ones don’t. The ones that don’t are considered vanity metrics that should be ignored. When it comes to CRO, bounce rates don’t really matter.
It’s possible that a change will increase conversion rates while increasing bounce rates at the same time. Don’t worry about the bounce rate. It’s a vanity metric. Instead, focus on conversions and stick with changes that improve your conversion rates. Vanity metrics like bounce rates don’t actually affect your revenue and thus don’t even need to be considered.
23. Run Different Tests For Mobile & Desktop Versions
Mobile and desktop visits are very different experiences and should be treated that way. The way people use your site on a mobile phone is different than the way they use it on a desktop computer, so you should design your site accordingly.
The same goes for CRO tests. You should run separate tests for mobile and desktop traffic to identify the conversion rates for each. You may learn your desktop site converts well but your mobile version doesn’t. This means you may need to focus some attention on your mobile version but your desktop version is fine. But if you don’t run separate tests, you won’t know the difference, and the results from the two will become conflated.
One way to find out is to filter results in Google Analytics based on mobile or desktop traffic. You can look at results that include both or filter one or the other out. By filtering them out, you’ll know conversion rates for each and know whether or not one or the other is a weak link and significantly affecting sales.
Another way to find out is to filter out different types of traffic from within your testing software. Visual Website Optimizer, for example, allows you to run a test only on mobile or desktop traffic. By running this kind of test, you’ll know what the conversion rates are for each, and whether or not the change you made improves conversions on either the mobile or desktop versions of your site.
24. Fewer Steps Isn’t Always Better
Some people think that the fewer steps customers have to take the better the conversion results will be, but that’s not necessarily the case. Crazy Egg was able to boost conversions 10% by adding a second step to their checkout process.
Thus, don’t assume that fewer steps are always better. Sometimes breaking the checkout process into a handful of steps leads to more commitment at the beginning of the process and to more conversions in the end. Take a look at your conversion funnel and see if it’s possible you could increase conversions by adding in a new step or two that breaks the process into more manageable chunks.
Switch Video, for example, only asks for First Name, Last Name, E-mail, and Phone Number in the quote request form on their homepage, but once people fill that out, they’re taken to a page where they can fill in more information about their project. If all of this information were on the homepage, it would intimidating. Breaking it up into separate steps increases the likelihood that people will fill out both forms since they’ve already started the process with step one.
Switch Video breaks up their quote request into two steps which makes the process less intimidating.
25. Write Better Call-To-Action Copy
Most people get lazy and use generic copy on their call-to-action buttons. They use things like “Buy Now,”“Click Here,” or “Free Trial.” Sometimes that works, but often it’s not the best.
Instead, you should customize your call-to-action buttons to match your product. 37 Signals increased conversions 200% by changing their CTA copy to “See Plans and Pricing.” Crazy Egg found that “Show Me My Heatmap” increased conversions by over 20%.
No matter the case, you should test CTA copy to find what works for your product or service. It’s worth testing custom copy that matches your site instead of just using generic, over-used copy.
“See Plans and Pricing” increased conversions on Highrise.com by 200%.
26. Pay Attention To Pictures
Images are powerful and are definitely worth 1,000 words. Studies have also shown that the wrong images can decrease conversion rates, so don’t overlook images. Using a picture of someone that’s too good looking, a male instead of a female, or an image that distracts from the message on a page can all decrease conversion rates which is why you need to test the images you use.
Highrise found they were able to increase conversions by using images of people. They also found that different people had different effects on conversions.
Even small differences like different people can have an impact on conversions.
Pictures may seem like a small part of a site, but they actually make a big difference. Subtle things like a person looking away from or at the headline of an ad or page can increase the number of people who read the copy and end up making a purchase. Other images can be distracting and not help visitors read the copy on the page and consider the offer. A lot of care needs to be taken when considering images for a website and all of them should be tested to see if new pictures will decrease or increase conversions.
27. Consider Removing Navigation Elements
Sometimes it’s a good idea to remove navigation from a page in order to increase conversions. You may think visitors need navigation options, but removing them provides fewer choices and increases the likelihood that visitors will take the step you want them to take.
Yuppiechef, for example, doubled conversions by removing navigation from landing pages. They tested two pages that were identical, except the second had the navigation removed from the top of the page. The new version lacking navigation boosted conversions from 3% to 6%.
Removing navigation doubled conversions for Yuppiechef’s online registry landing page.
It’s important to remember that any extra elements on a page can distract visitors from the main action you want them to take. This is why eCommerce sites like Amazon remove all navigation elements from checkout pages. They want to make sure nothing extra is on the page that can distract visitors from checking out. It’s worthwhile to consider all of your landing, order, and checkout pages to see if anything can be removed to decrease distractions and increase the number of people who accomplish the action you want them to take.
28. Don’t Overlook Clarity
Sometimes businesses or copywriters can outsmart themselves and get too creative. That’s when you need to remember that clarity frequently trumps creativity. Often, answering questions like, “Where am I?” or “What does this site do?” leads to better results than really creative, overly persuasive copy.
So don’t overlook copy that’s clear and effective for your headlines, landing pages, and website. Even if extra persuasive copy sells better, it can cause cancellations and trigger refunds. Consider testing clear, straightforward copy to see how it works on your site. A clear message will be more effective than a “persuasive” message that doesn’t make sense.
29. Focus, Focus, Focus
Your landing pages and website should be extremely focused. It’s best to have one goal in mind for each page and focus on accomplishing that goal. Pages with a single strong message and focus generally convert better than pages that try to accomplish too much at one time.
This is one reason why landing pages are so important. Landing pages help you to match your offer with the traffic that comes in and helps you to focus your message on one single offer. This typically leads to significantly higher conversion rates.
Unbounce is a great tool for creating landing pages that are highly focused. They make it easy to create landing pages for your site that match the source of traffic with the right message. You can build, publish, and test landing pages without IT in much the same way you can use apps like Visual Website Optimizer and Optimizely to run conversion tests without calling on IT resources.
30. User anxiety can derail a high percentage of potential conversions
I’m convinced that in order to optimize conversion rates, marketers have to study psychological barriers to conversion and learn how to overcome them.
What we often overlook is that behind every A/B test, copy change, color enhancement, and image improvement lurk the complex variables of human cognition and psychological responses.
One such psychological response is anxiety. Anxiety is a “feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” In an e-commerce setting, users will seldom convert if they are experiencing anxiety. For this reason, you need to work at reducing your customers’ anxiety.
Marketing Sherpa’s analysis of anxiety demonstrates its negative impact on the conversion process:
To help you understand the equation above, here is the list of its elements:
- “C” = Probability of conversion
- “m” = Motivation of user
- “v” = Clarity of the value proposition
- “i” = Incentive (additional) to take action
- “f” = Friction elements present
- “a” = Anxiety elements present
The reason why anxiety is such a powerful factor is because, according to Marketing Sherpa, “its degree/impact is often disproportionate to the measure of risk.” Thus, we tend to downplay its effect as we consider our overall page design and conversion elements.
Here are some of the most significant anxiety-inducing features of websites:
If a website’s content is confusing, misleading, or strange-sounding, it will introduce a high level of user anxiety into the process. The human mind craves something that will help to stabilize or clarify a new experience. If the website’s content introduces a disequilibrium into the user’s mental state, it can raise his or her anxiety level. There are several ways in which website copy can do this:
- Misspellings and grammatical errors
- Not enough content
- False claims or unverified statistics
- Over-the-top testimonials (usually accompanied by stock profile pictures)
- Multiple exclamation points
- Highly emotive expressions like “Unbelievable!” “Shocking!” or “OMG!”
Although website content doesn’t need to sound like Harvard Business Review every time, it should at least have some semblance of professionalism and balance.
Too many ads or ad-like elements
With the huge number of advertisements that we face on a daily basis, we’re accustomed to tuning many of them out. We tend to view ads with a degree of suspicion, knowing that they are placed to try to sell us something. We, as marketers, understand this intuitively, which is why much of our strategic efforts is directed at overcoming the cognitive bias against advertisements.
When your website contains a lot of advertisements, it activates the brain’s amygdala — a subconscious warning center. This response will produce a low-grade anxiety that may cause the user to either distrust what he or she is reading and seeing or to leave the page altogether.
Anything highly unfamiliar or unexpected
Humans crave the familiar. We gravitate towards the same people, the same route to work, the same style of clothing, the same computer operating system, the same types of foods. Sure, it’s true that many people are adventure-seekers and thrill-finders, always looking for a new level of danger or risk. But even such people experience the anxiety triggers of the unfamiliar. They simply deal with them differently.
Anything that is unfamiliar or unexpected produces anxiety. If your website uses extremely cutting edge design techniques or unique animation, it may be intriguing to the user, but it may also introduce a level of anxiety that reduces the likelihood of a conversion.
Often, the tried-and-true familiar methods are the best.
Request for too much information
Form elements on a website are extremely significant. This is the point of conversion on many landing pages, and a lot of care and effort goes into crafting just the right experience. If there are too many fields of information, it could create anxiety.
Many people have a highly developed sense of privacy, especially when it comes to online interaction. For a website to be requesting detailed information about one’s identity is considered an invasion of privacy. You’re better off requesting just the basics than getting greedy and asking for a lot.
Trust is another important psychological element you need to keep in mind. As you work to eliminate anxiety, you should concurrently work to improve trust, either by adding trust elements or enhancing existing features to improve their trustworthiness.
31. Don’t Stop With Your Site
Testing can go beyond the realm of your website. You can A/B test different ad copy variations and images to see which ones drive more traffic and lead to a higher conversion rate. You can also test different pictures on social media sites like Twitter to see what generates the most followers.
Once you get used to setting up A/B tests to compare different variations, there are numerous things you can consider testing such as e-mail subject lines and blog post headlines. The list goes on and on. A/B tests will become a valuable tool for growing your business once you get used to coming up with hypotheses and running tests to evaluate the results.
32. Don’t Overvalue Design
Contrary to popular belief, there are lots of ugly sites that are doing quite well (as in making billions of dollars). The list includes Google, Craigslist, and Ebay. Just because a website doesn’t look spectacular doesn’t mean it won’t convert well, and actually, quite often sites that look great don’t convert at all.
The real lesson to learn is to not fall in love with design. An ugly design that converts is better than an award-winning design that doesn’t. Yes, you want to have a site that looks good and is professional, but quite often designers place too much emphasis on design and not enough on conversions. If Google, Craigslist, and eBay can make billions from their sites, it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t overdesign yours and kill conversions in the process.
Craigslist is one of the ugliest sites on the web, yet it’s extremely successful and the 51st most trafficked site online.
33. Minimize Friction
An essential element of increasing conversion is reducing friction. Too often, however, in the excitement over A/B testing, we – as marketers – fail to focus on friction.
Friction is anything that can get in the way of a conversion. Every conversion specialist will tell you: “Reduce friction!” But what does this actually mean? In order to reduce friction, you have to know what it is and then work on getting rid of it.
Friction, as Peep Laja defines it, is “psychological resistance to a given element.” Unfortunately, “it is a natural part of selling.” Friction can arise anywhere in the sales process, and it will – simply because human psychology is endlessly complex and extraordinarily varied. Since so much of friction is internally/psychologically rooted, it’s hard to define exactly where it might occur on your site.
Here are some ways in which you can categorize friction and some questions to help you identify possible sources of friction on your site:
This kind of friction is making things more complicated than they need to be. Always remember the mantra KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid. The more complexity in your conversion process, the greater your risk of friction.
- Is there too much information?
- Am I introducing any extraneous topics or issues?
- Do I have any unnecessary form fields?
- Are there any terms or concepts that might be confusing to the visitor?
Information that you introduce or don’t introduce can create friction. Analyze the information on your page.
- Does the user have enough information to make a decision?
- Is there any more information that the user might want? Questions to be answered?
- Is the information organized logically?
- Does the information flow well?
Even your design style can be a friction element. If most of your users react against a certain type of design style on your website, you may wish to alter your style to better accommodate your visitors.
- Does my design style offend or please most of my visitors?
- Do I have enough stylistic interest to engage users and eliminate style friction?
Time is crucial when considering your conversion optimization. Obviously, this goes beyond page speed or load time. In this case, I’m interested in the amount of time that it takes a user to go from the first contact with the page to the final conversion point.
- Does the page take too long to view, read, or scroll?
- Does the form have too many fields to fill out?
- Does the conversion feel too rushed?
- Are there too many/not enough pages in the funnel process?
There is a huge variety of visual elements that can either create or reduce friction. Video placement, font kerning, background patterns, button color — an endless array of visual components affect friction.
- Is the text size appropriate for headlines and content?
- Is the call-to-action button an appropriate color?
- Are prices clearly indicated?
- Does the background color and text make for readable content?
One of the best ways to discover sources of friction is to ask users (e.g., a study group) about their experience. Where did they experience friction? Collect a list of the top friction points, create a variety of changes to implement, and then commence A/B testing each of them.
34. Don’t put a kid in a candy store
When you put a kid in a candy store and tell her she can only buy one thing, what happens? She won’t know what to get because she will want it all.
Visitors are affected the same way: giving them too many options can potentially hurt your conversion rates. By reducing the number of choices, you can make it easier for people to decide what they should buy on your website.
At KISSmetrics, we removed the navigation menu from the homepage as well as a lot of filler text and saw increases in conversions by over 70% through a combination of three separate A/B tests.
On Quick Sprout, I only offer three social sharing options… Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. I recently did a test where I offered five options, in which I added LinkedIn and Pinterest. The end result was a decrease in social sharing by 29%.
This just goes to show that giving people more options doesn’t always help you convert more visitors into customers. For this reason I only try to ask my visitors to do one thing at a time. When you ask them to do too many things, they typically don’t do any of them.
35. What’s the incentive?
One of the simplest ways to nudge people is to incentivize them. When I worked with the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, they offered visitors a discounted price to their college program for a period of 48 hours. Every time they did this, they generated more money in that 48-hour period than they did in any week throughout the year.
Appsumo is known for using the same strategy, offering deals for a very limited amount of time.
They even have a countdown clock on their website that shows for how long the deal will be around. If you miss out on the deal, you won’t ever get it again at that price.
By using things like countdown clocks, coupon codes and even bonuses you can incentivize your visitors to convert into paying customers. You just have to go above and beyond by offering them more than they expected.
36. What’s the consequence?
If someone doesn’t buy your product or service, there is always a consequence. It could be that they don’t increase their revenue or that their life is a bit harder. Whatever it may be, you can actually nudge people to become customers by telling them what will happen if they don’t sign up or buy from you.
With Crazy Egg, people sign up for the service because they want to understand how their visitors engage with their sites. They are able to convert an extra 6% of visitors into customers by showing them a message that says “No thanks, I treat all click behavior the same”.
Sometimes, you just have to tell people what they will be missing if they don’t become customers. You don’t have to do this through paragraphs of text; a short phrase usually does the trick.
Conversion optimization is more than the sum of a variety of A/B tests. It’s more than tweaking button colors and adding stronger CTAs. Much more.
There are hundreds of ways you can nudge your visitors to become customers… you just have to get a bit creative.
The most important thing for you to do is to try using some of these tips that I have provided as they can help boost your revenue.
When doing so, make sure you run A/B tests on the changes as some will help and some won’t.
But if you don’t test them, you may end up losing money by not even trying.
There are a lot of things to consider when conversion testing.
By saving this list of 36 expert conversion tips, you’ll have some of the most important tips available at your fingertips.