A systematic guide to help you increase the conversion rate of your website
Chances are you found this page because you run some sort of website that could use an increase in conversion rate. Whether you have a new website that is just getting going, or you’re looking to improve an existing website, there are a handful of conversion rate optimization activities you can undertake to improve conversions.
Jump to the List of Conversion Rate Optimization Activities
First, Define Your Site’s Goals
Every website has a goal. If you are a SaaS company, your goals could range from securing a lead to closing a sale. Ecommerce sites may count a newsletter signup as a goal, or something as simple as a sale. Other sites may exist to provide product support or give information about a company. Your site’s unique goal will be used to decide which of the following activities will help increase conversion rate the most.
Not all conversion rate optimization activities apply in every situation, so be sure you have a goal in mind before moving on. It’s okay to have multiple goals, but try to keep the amount of unique goals low.
Next, Listen To Your Users
Remember, you are optimizing for the conversion of your website users. You’re not optimizing for your own conversion, so don’t do things because you like them, do them because your user likes them. This means you need to know what your users think. Only once you understand the wants and needs of your users, can you effectively optimize for conversion.
Chances Are You Don’t Know What Your Users Think
Approach This Lack Of Info In Multiple Ways
Ask Your Users
Use your email list to send a survey to past customers. Post a survey request on social media. Reach non-customers with a pop-up survey request on your site. Be sure to keep your surveys short and to the point. The fewer questions you ask, the more people will be willing to complete the survey. You can go as simple as a one question survey, or design your own with SurveyMonkey.
Look At Your Analytics
Dig through your Google Analytics data. A few metrics and two simple segments will help you understand the mindset of your user. First, create a segment of converters, and another of non-converters. Now compare them. What are your top landing pages for converters? What about for non-converters? Top exit pages? Most popular site search queries? Most visited pages? The list could go on.
Dig through the data and see if you can recognize any differences between converters and non-converters. Perhaps you’ll find something you can easily fix. If most non-converters exit on a specific page, while few converters visit the same page, you would want to look at that page for optimization. Perhaps converters follow a more natural path to conversion, while non-converters try and search and fail to find what they need, highlighting a weakness in your site search. Whatever the difference is, try and identify it and act to fix the conversion-blocking problem.
Watch Them As They Browse
In the past, we could directly watch our shoppers as they browsed our aisles, learning from their behavior from afar. We could clearly see that an end-cap at the grocery store was causing a traffic issue, and quickly move to remedy the problem. We can still do that today, with the help of a free tool called HotJar.
This tool will record the user’s mouse, keyboard and scroll data, and play it back to you as if you were sharing the user’s screen. It sounds a lot creepier than it is! The recordings are anonymous, they only record user interaction with your site, not anything else. Additionally, sensitive text is blurred, so you can’t see what the user types.
Use these HotJar user recordings to look for areas that block conversion. We’ve seen cases where non-traditional addresses would confuse checkouts, found links that lead to the wrong page, uncovered responsive formatting errors, etc. We’re confident you’ll find something, too.
Do Keyword Research
Keyword research will help you uncover the reason someone has landed on your website. There’s a strong chance that the keyword they clicked on from the search engine can tell you exactly what the user wants.
Unfortunately, nothing in life comes easy, and that includes keyword data from Google. You’ll only see a tiny fraction of the keywords people clicked on when they found your site in a Google search. Both in Analytics and in Webmaster Tools.
Instead of relying on Google for keyword data, we can use a SEO/SEM data tool to learn how our pages rank on Google Search Results Pages. We can then compare our keyword rankings to organic traffic on specific pages. By knowing what pages rank for what keywords, we can take an educated guess as to what organic users on these pages used as their keyword, and thus, what they want out of the page.
Define Your Conversion Rate Pain Points
Chances are you found some pain points in the Listen To Your Users step above. These are some of the areas that are blocking conversions and they require your attention. Make note of these issues, and refer back to this list as you read through the conversion rate optimization activities, below.
Identify Opportunities To Increase Conversion Rate
Not all conversion-rate-blocking opportunities are obvious or even detectable with Analytics or HotJar recordings. Your headlines, button color, add to cart placement, hero image, etc. can all be tested against other options in an attempt to increase conversion rate. Make a list of these test-able items, and refer back as you read through the activities below.
Focus With A Clear Value Proposition
What is the primary reason this visitor should convert? Typically, a conversion occurs when it is advantageous for the visitor to do so. Put on your digital marketer hat and figure out the value proposition of the page you are optimizing. Remember, we’re not interested in you, we’re interested in what we offer the visitor.
A good way to define your value proposition is to write a sentence or two about why someone should choose you over a competitor. This requires you to simplify your proposition to its most basic essence. You will then use this value proposition to help prioritize the items to optimize on your page first.
Let’s imagine you’re an online plant nursery. You can’t compete with a local plant nursery on a lot of important plant buying factors, so you would want to offer clear value elsewhere. Perhaps you compete by offering free shipping, lower prices, and/or a larger selection. You would want to focus on optimizing and refining these values’ presence on your page first. Perhaps this fictional website’s value proposition is something like, “We offer a wide selection of competitively-priced plants. We guarantee they’ll arrive on your doorstep happy and healthy.”
Conversion Rate Optimization Activities
What follows is a list of activities you can undertake to help increase your website’s conversion rate. This list is in no particular order, and not all activities work in all situations.
Jump to a section:
A/B Test – Social Proof – Add Video – Remove Distractions – Address Competition – Make It Easy – Help Users – Clear Shipping – Check Policies – Add Urgency – Add Popup – Boost Speed – Mobile First – Get Local
Use A/B Testing for Conversion Rate Optimization
A/B testing is deserving of its own article, but we’ll give it a quick explanation here. A definition of A/B testing is the systematic comparison of two (or more) elements’ performance on a web page to see if one causes a goal to be reached more often than the other. This testing is the cornerstone of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), which is a fancy way of saying you are working to increase conversion rates.
There are many different A/B testing tools out there, including Google Optimize, which is part of the Google Marketing Platform,
An example of A/B testing for a food delivery site could be the color of a Call To Action (CTA) button. With multiple button colors, we can serve some users the original color, and then other users the new color.
We then record the amount of users, as well as the conversions achieved for each color and see which had a higher conversion rate. If there is a statistically significant difference, we choose the color that performed best as the winner.
Some easy elements to test:
• Hero Image
• CTA Button
• Accent Color
• Video Previews
Some sophisticated web teams will have tens or even hundreds of different CRO tests running simultaneously on their site, constantly looking to improve the conversion rate of their site.
Add Social Proof
Imagine this: You’re on vacation and it’s time to eat. There are two restaurants across from each other. One is packed full and has a 45 minute wait, while the other is half-empty with immediate seating.
Which do you choose? (We don’t care what we think, remember?) Most customers will wait the 45 minutes rather than take the immediate seating at the empty restaurant. This is a perfect example of social proof in the real world. We trust that all those people can’t be wrong, so we go with what they prefer.
The same holds true for the web, except we can’t see when other people are browsing the same website. Instead, we leave reviews, recommendations and testimonials on websites that we value. We value this social proof so much, that lacking it will often be a conversion blocker.
Ways To Add Social Proof To Your Website
If you have an ecommerce site, your users expect reviews. If you don’t have reviews of your product, share reviews of your site in general. People want to know that other people have had a good shopping experience. Help them!
For those of you without products to review, you’ll want to offer testimonials from users, clients, etc. Potential converters will want to be assured they are making the right decision, and a testimonial will do just that.
SaaS companies will often benefit from including logos of well-known clients on their website. After all, if the product is good enough for a Fortune 100 company, it’s probably good enough for me and my SME, right?
Social Posts with Hashtag
Do you have a social media following? Use Juicer to add a managed social media feed for your hashtag on your website, and let your users see people enjoying your product.
Add Video To Increase Conversions
There are over 100 unique reasons as to why you want to add video to your website to increase conversion. One of the most common reasons would be to show people using your product. While it may seem simple, sometimes this helps people visualize themselves using the product, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Video is also the king of communication on the internet. Your users are 27 times more likely to click on a video ad on your page than a static banner ad. Further, 80% of people remember what they see in a video, while just 10% of people remember what they read. Similarly, 80% of people will watch a video on a page, but only 20% will read the text on a page. Put simply, video engages way better.
If you already use video on your page, increase its conversion rate with an animated preview thumbnail instead of a static thumbnail. With LucidVideo, your users can mouseover or scroll to your video, and it will automatically play a short AI-generated preview, helping them quickly decide to click/tap to watch the full video. Give it a try above.
Remove Distractions to Boost Conversion Rates
Your page should focus on one goal, which is supported by a clear value proposition. That’s it. Adding more to a page risks the user 1) navigation away from the conversion opportunity, or 2) getting overwhelmed and lost in a sea of information.
It’s best to remove unnecessary distractions, helping keep the visitor on-focus and moving towards the conversion. Distractions include non-conversion-related pop ups on conversion pages. An example of this would be to pop up a newsletter signup form on an ecommerce product page. Save those for search or category pages, if you can.
Related items listed at the bottom of the page can also be a distraction. Sometimes allowing the user to focus on one item at a time is the best bet. Do some A/B testing on your site to find out where your users stand on this. You can always try and upsell during the add to cart process.
Address The Competition
If you’re in a highly competitive market, don’t hide from the competition, tell your users why you’re the better choice! Create a page of your site where you address the competition. You can do this with feature comparisons, price matches, reviews, etc. Be sure that your value proposition is addressed on this page. This is your chance to show your expertise.
Make Conversion Quick & Easy
Real world or online, no one wants to work to convert. It’s your job to make the conversion process as simple as possible. It’s tempting to ask your users for more information that you actually need on lead generation forms. If this will be the user’s first conversion with you, don’t ask for too much private information at this point. They don’t trust you yet. A simple first name and email address is usually plenty. You can always set up email automations that request more information at a later date, after you have gained their trust.
This means you need to:
Remove unnecessary steps or input fields
– If you use pop ups for upsells, be sure to test that they don’t have a net negative effect.
– Do you really need to know their Title? Phone Number? The less information you ask from someone in a form, the more likely they are to complete the form.
Can they convert on the same page?
– You’ll see better conversion rates if you avoid page loads.
Optimize for autofill, digital wallets & password managers
– Make sure your forms work with the autofill features in most web browsers.
– Be sure your credit card input form is seen as such by a web browser, allowing users to use a digital wallet.
– Be sure password forms work with password managers.
Keep cart contents
– Have you ever been to a website, built a cart, and then left the checkout page open, planning to return later. Then, upon your return, you find that your cart has been cleared? Avoid this frustration with persistent cart contents.
Help Your Users to Increase Conversion Rate
Sometimes your users need a few questions answered before they can convert. Offer them a self-service Frequently Asked Questions section on your site. Use this FAQ to pre-answer common questions and to give the user additional information that will help them along in the conversion process.
Some websites will benefit from the addition of live chat, though be aware that you’ll need someone available to answer questions. If you don’t have the time or personnel to have live chat, AI-based chatbots are becoming a popular alternative to live chat. Just be sure you offer a way to reach a human as well.
Offer Clear & Affordable Shipping
Nothing makes a shopper more likely to abandon a cart than to suddenly be faced with unexpectedly high shipping costs during the last step of checkout. Instead of hiding your costs, be upfront about them. Add a “Shipping” link on your ecommerce site’s footer and create a page where a user can read about your shipping policies.
Similarly, you allow the user to estimate shipping based on cart contents and zip code directly from the cart, without requiring them to begin the checkout process. This is especially true for sites that have high average shipping costs. Sometimes there’s no way to avoid it – big and heavy things are not cheap to ship!
To that point, we know how expensive shipping can be. We also know you want to offer competitive prices. It’s a delicate balance between a low product price with high shipping costs, or a high product price with free shipping. Experiment with your store to see what combination your users prefer.
Double Check Policies
Sometimes it’s not the product that is preventing conversion, it’s the policies surrounding it. Take a look around in your industry. Do you offer similar return policies? Guarantees/warranties? Delivery times? If not, try and at least offer the same, if not better.
Additionally, your users will want to clearly see your physical address on the Contact page, if not in the footer, read a bit about your company and leadership team on an About Us page, and know that they can easily contact you via a form, email address, and/or phone number on the Contact page.
Add Urgency to Increase Conversion Rate
Limited time offers will sometimes be the deciding factor in the conversion process. If you market a service, see how your users react to urgency with limited-time-offer countdowns on your conversion page. For ecommerce sites, a time-sensitive discount or offering a limited quantity at a lower price will often help trigger conversion.
Add A Popup To Your Site
Popups can be very effective conversion boosting tools, when used correctly. Note the, “when used correctly” part. A lot of sites use popups incorrectly, giving them a bad name. Instead of annoying your users with a popup immediately upon entering your site, or worse, on every page load, hold off for a bit.
Every Popup Needs a Good Reason for Being
You should always have a great reason for a popup. Perhaps it’s to remind the user that you offer free shipping over $75. Or a limited time only 15% off orders of $150 or more. Or, if you offer a service, maybe you want to tell them about your free trial or a whitepaper they may be interested in reading. Make sure your offer is attractive, targeted, and timely, otherwise it can quickly become an annoyance.
Don’t Show Pop Ups to Just Anyone
Your popups should be targeted at a specific moment of conversion. Perhaps it’s triggered by scrolling to a certain point on the page, or by the amount of time spent on the site. Additionally, you should target specific pages with unique popups, helping increase their relevance and chance of conversion.
These delayed, or user action-triggered popups are more effective than a pop up on page load. Before you pop, you want to let the user get their bearings and find the info they came to your site to find. After this time period, a user is much more ready to act on that popup.
Don’t Hide Important Info in a Popup
It’s important that you don’t hide your promotions behind a popup. Instead, use popups as a reminder of a promotion you also have listed elsewhere on your site. Everyone should be aware of the popup’s promo, not just those that meet popup criteria.
Use Popups to Avoid Page Loads
Users prefer to have as few page loads as possible to achieve their goal. You can use a CTA button on your page as a trigger for a popup, allowing a user to perform an action, such as signing up to a newsletter, without requiring a page reload.
A/B Test Your Popups
Whatever you do, make sure that you A/B test the presence of your popup. You want to be 100% sure that your new popup is not costing you more money than it is bringing in.
Optimize Your Site For Fast Page Loads
No one likes waitting, whether it’s in line at the physical store or online at the ecommerce store. Optimize your website for fast page load times. You can do this manually, by ensuring that your images are sized and compressed appropriately for their usage on your site, and replacing large GIF files with auto-playing, looping videos, and removing unnecessary website plugins.
If you use WordPress to host your website, there are many plugins out there that can help speed up your site by optimizing your media automatically. For instance, LucidVideo will automatically create multiple optimized versions of your video, and then dynamically stream your video to users based on their unique needs.
You can also optimize your site by using a Content Delivery Network that focuses on sending optimized content on a per-user basis.
IMPROVE Conversion Rate by Being Mobile First
Have you looked at your device type analytics lately? A good number of sites see more mobile users these days than desktop users. If that’s the case for your site, it’s time to think mobile first. What that means is you need to design your site’s conversion process to fit the needs and limitations of a mobile user first. Then, you modify that to work for the desktop. This is the exact opposite of how things have been done for years, but it reflects the needs of today’s consumer.
Get Local to Improve Conversions
Increase relevance with your users by including local information on your pages. For instance, if you offer services in multiple cities, make a page for each location. Users like to know they’re in the right place, and clearly stating that you service their city/area/neighborhood go a long way towards boosting conversion rates.
There are multiple plugins available that will allow you to serve different information to users based on their location. You could use this information to highlight in-store only offers for those within driving distance of one of your stores, or to serve up localized products in search results pages.
There is a lot you can to to improve the conversion rate fo your website. The first steps in the process involve gaining a strong understanding of your audience, followed by an examination of your website. Once you have figured how what needs to be improved, you can use a wide range of conversion rate optimization techniques to improve conversion rates of everything from specific buttons, to full pages, or even entire websites.