We asked five leading web marketing experts for their best advice for when it comes to Conversion Rate Optimization. Here, their answers about diving into optimization, important concepts, best methods to take charge of your conversion rate, and more.
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
Web marketers often focus on improving the sources driving traffic to a website but don’t consider the options and opportunities once that traffic reaches their pages.
The practice of testing, tweaking and getting a higher percentage of visitors to take the actions you desire (buying a product, giving an email address, downloading a whitepaper etc.) is called “conversion rate optimization” (or CRO) and it’s an essential part of the marketer’s toolkit. Often, CRO is the most profitable and worthwhile practice a web marketer performs – outstripping other tactics for its return on investment.
The practice of CRO includes improving the accessibility of your pages – their loading speed, ability to render properly in all browsers and ease of consumption.
There’s also a lot of art and science to writing copy, designing graphics, filming + embedding video, etc. that will help to convince your visitors to take the action you want. On top of that, there’s testing. Tools like Google Website Optimizer or Test + Target make it easy to run multiple versions of a headline, a graphic, a block of text, a video or even whole pages to find the one that converts best for your site and your audience.
Sometimes segmentation (splitting different groups of users into buckets and showing them different pages) is the best way to maximize your returns. For more check out The Definitive How-To Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization and Lessons Learned from 21 Case Studies in Conversion Rate Optimization.
What to focus on the most when it comes to Conversion Optimization?
If we could only pass on one piece of advice regarding conversion rate optimization, it would be this: Only use strong offers.
This conversion rule seems glaringly obvious but almost everyone gets it wrong. Many marketers are tempted to try out the latest technology, redesign their entire website or rebrand the company but never focus on creating a truly compelling offer. A key principle from your old marketing textbook to keep in mind is â€“ sell benefits not features. People buy saws for the cuts they make, not because of the new carbide blade.
Pro Tip â€“ Create an offer that would make you eager to buy
To put it bluntly, never make the mistake of assuming your potential customers are stupid. If you wouldn’t get excited about your offer, why would anyone else?
Today’s consumer is extremely sophisticated. You can bet that they will shop around, look for unbiased information and instantly leave when they see marketing hype.You don’t need the lowest price. You just need to prove and compellingly show that your product/service is solid and perfectly meets their need.
This basic principle is the starting point for many of the projects we undertake. If you’d like to see how this plays out in real life, check out our conversion rate optimization case study for sunshine.co.uk. You’ll learn the tools and techniques that helped us increase Sunshine.co.uk’s revenues by £14 million in 2010. For even more case studies, conversion optimization ideas and useful tools check out our blog: www.conversion-rate-experts.com/blog
How important are landing pages in a conversion optimization strategy?
Visitors to your website or landing page subconsciously walk through a 3-step mental process within the first 5-10 seconds of arriving on your page. They ask themselves: “Am I in the right place?”, “Is this what I need?” and “How do I participate?”. Landing pages are a critical element in any CRO strategy as they address these questions more quickly and in a more focused manner than your homepage can.
Landing pages do this by creating a good “Conversion M.A.P.” for your customers which:
- M – Matches the expectations of your visitors: by closely matching the message of the upstream ad
- A – Addresses the needs of the consumer: by clearly communicating the benefits and context of use of what you’re promoting
- P – Points them forward: by providing a clear call to action (CTA) and using conversion centered design principles to guide visitors towards your intended conversion goal (via directional cues and fewer interaction points)
Just like in the real world – where a map helps direct people and prevents them from getting lost – a strong Conversion M.A.P. can guide your online visitors and turn more of them into converting customers.
For more insight, case studies, and conversion tips you should read this authoritative post featuring 52 Ways to be a Conversion Badass.
How Much Can A/B Tests Improve Conversion Rates?
Even if you’re the world’s greatest conversion expert, you can never know precisely which headline wording, button design, registration form, or even landing page layout will get the better conversion rate… until you run a real-world test.
The world’s most successful sites – including Google-owned sites such as YouTube, Microsoft-owned sites such as MSN.com, LinkedIn as well as 100% of the top 50 eretailers – frequently run tests. They all admit, despite years of experience and best practices conversion research, they don’t know what design or copy will win until they see the real-world data.
The good news is nearly anyone can run a test fairly quickly, cheaply and easily. You don’t have to be a giant site or company to test. You just need a moderate amount of traffic – enough visitors to a particular page or page template to get a statistically conclusive number of conversions (perhaps 10,000-20,000 visitors per month could do it). You need some testing technology.
Luckily there’s do-it-yourself software online that’s free or fairly low-cost. And, you need to decide what you’ll test. Check out our free online library of close to 100 real-life tests run by sites of every size and type to inspire you. You can see the creative samples and the results data.
According to our research, an ecommerce page that hasn’t been tested before should see a ~20%+ rise in conversions from a series of basic tests. A lead generation offer page can do even better with an average of ~30-40% rise in conversions. (We’ve seen higher lifts, but this is average). This rise is from the exact same amount of traffic, the test tells you how to change your page design, illustrations, buttons, and/or copy so more people convert.
Let’s face it, the vast majority of traffic your site or landing pages get now is bouncing off. You will never get the conversions you deserve unless you’re testing. Why waste traffic? Test.
What is the simplest way to guarantee sales?
For over 10 years I have been helping clients optimize their conversion rates. In that time, there is one simple tactic, that will guarantee you additional sales. One of the most important – and often overlooked – ways to boost your conversion rate while improving the experience for your customers is to focus on point-of-action assurances. Basically, these are the messages that smart ECommerce sites give us, just as we’re ready to check out.
What Are Point-of-Action Assurances?
At the point when a visitor is ready to take action, to fill out a form, to click on a button or link, they are at a seductive moment. It’s a delicate place. It’s at that point they could lose confidence in their decision and not take the action you want them to take. That’s why you must provide messaging to bolster trust and confidence.
Point-of-action reassurances help us overcome that one last moment of doubt (“I think she hinted at this one, but can I exchange it if she wants that other digital camera instead?”). These types of messages are especially important when dealing with customers who are buying gifts online. Check out several point of actions assurance examples.
Your turn now
What is your tip for optimizing conversion rates? Spread the word.