“Conversion” – it sounds like such a mysterious thing to newer website owners. You want more of your site visitors to buy your product. Those who are already buying, you want them to come back, buy again, and spend more while they are at your site.
However, the sheer number of elements that go into creating good conversion rates can seem overwhelming at first. Should you look at your call-to-action buttons? Do you need a better product description? Fortunately, there are companies that have big marketing budgets, or sometimes small ones but a lot of time to experiment, who have studied what works best to improve site conversion. By studying the techniques these companies have used successfully, you can gain some insider tips that will help improve conversion on your site.
1. Include Customer Testimonials
Adding customer testimonials tells your site visitors that you can be trusted because others have been happy with your product. WikiJob, a graduate jobs website in the UK and one of the largest, was able to increase sales by 34% simply by adding an optimized customer testimonial. You will want to take three steps to not only add testimonials, but ones that will increase your conversion rates.
- Collect customer testimonials. The easiest way to do this is to provide a link the customer can click on, e-mail current customers, and simply ask for testimonials.
- Use the testimonials on your site. Have a separate page, sprinkle them throughout your text, put them in an image box and include on your landing page, etc.
- A/B test the statements by optimizing them for SEO, increasing the size of the text, trying different placements, etc. and see which combination works best to increase your income.
The co-founder of WikiJob, Chris Muktar, shared with Visual Website Optimizer how they tested their theory. They had two main goals. First, they wanted to get people to click through to PayPal, but their final goal was to convert that click into the customer purchasing the product. They tried their theory on a single landing page at first. They even experimented with placement, but the only thing that made a difference was upfront, sincere testimonials on the landing page.
2. Offer Trust Signals
Imagine for a moment that you are a visitor to a website for the first time. The product looks interesting, but you don’t know the person running it or anything about the company. Can you even trust them to deliver what you pay for? How do you know they will offer good customer service if you’re not happy with your purchase?
You can allay a lot of fears your customers have by offering trust signals. Offer a 30-day full refund, returns without questions, double money back guarantee (careful with this one), or even free shipping to help entice those new customers to trust you. Even the USPS offers a money-back guarantee on their Express Mail services.
3. Create Closed Checkouts
When you study your website statistics, do you notice that a lot of your customers go to the ordering page but don’t follow through with the order? Perhaps the customer is getting distracted. People are crazy busy these days. There are dozens of distractions for the average person. From children needing help with homework, to television, to a text message coming through to other websites and even, at times, your own website’s sidebars.
Closed checkouts remove all distractions in the checkout process. Amazon is a perfect example of a closed checkout that has translated into a massive sales machine. Once you arrive at your shopping cart, it is not easy to suddenly browse elsewhere. Instead, Amazon funnels the customer through the system, gathering payment information, shipping and suggesting additional products others have purchased. To model Amazon’s method:
- Remove links that will take the customer away from the checkout process
- Try to stick with simple pages without a lot of clutter, such as multimedia or even a lot of images
- Create a clear process where the customer confirms the order, adds payment info, adds shipping and sees one clear button to click to complete the sale.
4. Add Special Effects
Let’s go back to your landing page for a minute. Special effects can drive the traffic that hits your site to the page you want it on, such as the ordering page, or a special offer. The goal is to make it easy for the site visitor to navigate to the page you want him on.
- Hello Bar is a neat little tool which allows you to place a bar on your page that has text and is clickable. You can make it a bright red, for example, so it stands out and the customer will see the bar and may click on it. Be clear in the text as far as where the customer will go. For example, put the words “more information on plans and pricing” in your bar.
- nRelate Flyout is a plugin that works with WordPress to insert a flyout box on your page similar to what is used at New York Times or Huffington Post. This catches the reader’s eye. Offer a tidbit, such as “save 34% on heating costs this winter with our energy efficiency plan” and your visitors may just go to your product page to learn more.
5. Watch Industry Trends
Check trends in your industry, watch what is trending on Google and Twitter, keep an eye on your friend’s Facebook pages and even tune in to the national news. A perfect example of how a company went with trending news and revamped their site to increase conversion happened when Michael Jackson passed away. According to Andrew Girdwood, it was within two hours if the King of Pop’s death that Amazon edited their MP3 homepage to feature Michael Jackson songs.
Editor’s note: of course, always be sensitive to current events, especially tragedies. There’s nothing worse than a company trying to profit off of sad news, like a shooting.
6. Check Site Usability
All the site traffic on the Internet won’t do you a bit of good if your site is hard to use. Bad navigation, home page clutter, lengthy pages, or poor layout will all hurt you with site visitors. If your site is slow to load, visitors will leave and move on to the next site that loads more quickly. Here are some things you can do today to ensure your home page and landing pages are easier to read in digital format:
Create a page layout that is balanced. If you’re not sure, ask a graphic designer or web designer friend to help. Artists usually have a natural eye for balance as well.
- Use headers, subheaders and bullet points to break up the text and make it easy to skim.
- Make sure there is white space between paragraphs and make your paragraphs shorter.
- Make sure important navigation links are easy to find.
Audible.com is a good example of a usable site. The layout is easy to read and the text stands out against the white background. The top of the home landing page states two options very clearly: “How It Works” and “About Membership”. This is the information a visitor needs to decide whether or not Audible is right for him. Audible very effectively funnels the first-time visitor to one of these two pages and then offers a free book so you can try it out.
7. Have Separate Landing Pages
Nearly every business out there has more than one type of customer. If you sell pet rocks, for example, you might have a very young audience made up of children ordering pet rocks with their birthday money and an older audience ordering pet rocks as gifts. You may also sell different types of pet rocks, such as mini pet rocks and boulders. It is important to have different landing pages for different targeted audiences. You can more easily track how successful a particular site conversion tactic is with that product or audience.
Voices.com was able to improve their conversion rate by more than 200%. Through customer surveys and analytics, they determined that they had two main types of customers. Their customers were either voice over artists or companies seeking such artists. They created two separate funnels, one for each customer type.
8. Improve Headlines
The headline is the first impression the reader has of your website. Perhaps it is while she is browsing on a search engine, or maybe it is when a friend shares an article on a social media site. Whatever the case, you have a chance to make her want to read more or to yawn and walk away.
You can easily keep her on your site and through your content convert her into a customer by:
- Improving your hook
- Creating a set of templates that are proven effective formulas for headlines
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Read the Headlines Writing Guides at Web Hosting Secrets Revealed for 35 sample headlines and how to create your own.
# 9: Add Videos
Would your product be presented better with a video? In one case study, jewelry sales rose by an impressive 247% when videos of the product were added. A few things to keep in mind based on this case study:
- Feature one product at a time so you can easily enable A/B testing for how successful that video is for that product.
- Keep in mind that some visitors will have slower load times and cover the information in text in case they have multimedia disabled.
10. Keep It Short
The average Internet browser spends around 4 seconds looking over a page before deciding to move on. This could be due to the increased use of smart phones and tablets to access the Internet, but whatever the cause, you have a very short amount of time to hook that reader and get her interested in your product.
Remember that less is more. Let’s look at AssessmentDay’s success with cutting some of the elements on a landing page. The company had a landing page with a call-to-action button, a FAQs section about what type of assessment tests they offer, screenshots of their software in action and some headlines to tie it all together. They simply removed the screenshots, a very easy change, and their A/B test results showed a 62% change. Shorter landing pages are better for conversion rates.
Convert Visitors into Customers
If anything, these case studies prove that small changes can make a big difference. Removing a few graphics, adding a guarantee, showing customers that others love your product call all work to increase conversion. Smart conversion tactics equals success.