There is only one way to outsmart and outprice your competition – conversion rate optimization. Here are easy ways to make more money without increasing traffic.
Conversion rate optimization is the art and science of creating better online experiences that compel visitors to become customers. The goal of conversion rate optimization is to increase the percentage of visitors who buy, sign up or take any other desirable action on the website.
When you exercise conversion rate optimization the right way, it will transform your website into a funnel that leads visitors towards taking an intended action. Typically, this action will be the completion of sale, lead generation or even subscription of your company’s newsletter.
Conversion rate optimization is both art and science. It’s art, because you need to apply intangible skills to generate online experiences that convert. It’s science, because you apply statistics in order to test what works with high statistical confidence.
There is plenty of advice online on conversion rate optimization, although not all of it is stellar and some of it is conflicting. However, effective conversion rate optimization consists of tried and true principles that everyone can apply to increase conversion rate. We prepared this guide with the aim to help you get the most out of the traffic that you already have. We are confident that following even some of these principles will help you get closer to your monetization goals online.
Here is your guide to conversion rate optimization with solid strategies to build a structured plan for optimizing your site.
Defining goals for conversion rate optimization
Nearly every online business in the world has one goal in mind—making money. The road to making more money, though, is full of potholes and curves. The aim is to have the largest proportion of visitors possible convert to customers. However, most websites, unfortunately, are not reaching their conversion rate potential and just settle for mediocre conversion rate.
One of the reasons that conversion rate is not simple is that every website has a different goal. Some websites want more leads; some want more subscribers, while others want people to share their content. Other goals include registrations, clicks and eyeballs. However, the most popular goal is sales.
Building a structured approach for conversion rate optimization
The global benchmark for conversion rate is somewhere between 2-3% (and varies widely by industry and goal). New research from Forrester estimates that for every $100 spent on generating website traﬃc, a mere $1 is actually effective in bringing traffic that converts. Imagine what you can do with the additional $99.
Web analytics and conversion management is also a crucial step for success. You cannot improve conversion rate without in-depth measurement of your conversion funnel.
Structured approach to conversion rate optimization drives results. The online magazine eConsultancy and RedEye conducted a survey of conversion rate optimization plans, goals and goal attainment. Results show that 89% of survey respondents who had a structured approach to conversion rate optimization had improved conversion in the previous 12 months.
Nevertheless, according to the Econsultancy-RedEye conversion rate optimization report, only 31% of companies reported having a structured approach to improving conversion rate. This is bad news, considering the plethora of proven techniques to improve conversion rate.
This research offers great news for those who want to increase conversion rate. The research suggests that having a structured approach to conversion rate optimization and practicing proven techniques for increasing conversion rate increases the likelihood for success dramatically.
Obstacles on the road to conversions
Why do so many websites underperform and do not realize their conversion rate potential? Some websites have cumbersome designs that fail to drive visitors to take action and complete the purchase. These problems can often be solved with the help of a custom web design or by setting up a landing page for your product that makes it easy for shoppers to find exactly what they are looking for.
In ecommerce, there is also value in trust and familiarity with the brand. According to a research by SeeWhy, 99% of visitors will not complete a purchase on their first visit to the website. However, 75% of visitors will abandon with the aim to return and complete a purchase.
Here is why people don’t buy on their first visit to your website:
- First visit: These are visitors who have never visited your site before. Interestingly, only 1% of these visitors would ever buy anything on their first visit.
- Subsequent visits: 75% of first time visitors who left, actually intend to return and buy something later on.
- Returning visitors: These are the visitors who have come to the site again. Now 53% of these second time visitors won’t return again in the next 28 days, but of the remaining that do return, 25% of them would purchase something.
- Repeat purchases: Only 3% of first time visitors who made a purchase will make a repeat purchase. However, 11% of returning visitors who have made a recent purchase (i.e., within the previous 28 days) will buy again. Very impressive figures.
This research offers valuable lessons for conversion rate optimization. The main message here is that you need to draw people back to your website, even if they did not make a purchase. Increasing repeat visits increases your conversion rate and drives more purchases. There is no better way to make people return than compelling them to subscribe to your mailing list. There is no better way to compel them to subscribe than to exit intent pop-ups.
I’ve done some thorough research around opt-in pop-ups to check what works and what doesn’t. My research shows that there are two kinds of pop-ups that do a great job boosting sign-ups:
- Make people acknowledge they have a need. Pop-ups with words like “No thanks,” or “I am happy with low traffic” are never supposed to work because they seem very arrogant, right? Who wants a big pop-up right on their face? I guess we can all be surprised. Research shows that these very opt-in boxes outperformed others by 34%.
- Exit intent pop-up: These are the pop-ups that appear when the visitor is about to leave the site. The pop-up is initiated by the movement of the mouse cursor towards the close button. It’s a pretty neat tool to capture the people who are planning to end the session.
There are plenty of ways to utilize exit intent pop-ups for conversion optimization. A great example is ecommerce. At Nordstrom, for example, pages are gender specific. However, when a woman gets into the men’s store or vice-versa, how do you prevent abandonment?
In this example, using pop-up helped Nordstrom drive people to the right landing page. By addressing the high percentage of people that get into the wrong gender specific landing page by using an exit intent pop-up, Nordstrom was able to reduce bounce rate and increase conversion rate.
Typography and conversion rate optimization
In some cases, conversion problems run deeper than simply helping people navigate through the website. In these cases, a full-scale website conversion rate optimization plan is needed to convert more visitors into buyers. It may be the case that you need a change of mindset or emphasis in the way you write about your business, to be more direct in asking for the sale or encouraging people to move down what’s known as the conversion funnel, closer and closer to actually making a purchase.
You usually can’t rely on your website alone to drive sales. It’s a combination of having a great design that moves people through the process and having persuasive copy that gets them to take the next step—whether that next step is buying a product or simply signing up for your newsletter.
While words and rich imagery steal most of the credit behind conversions, there’s always a covert agent at work — Typography.
According to Cyrus Highsmith, typography represents the voice of an atmosphere. If you want to lend your website a unique voice, feel and character, then a unique set of types for the title and content should do the trick.
Conversion rate optimization is a somewhat tricky process that should involve a lot of testing of different headlines, offers, maybe even website designs, in order to determine what combination of elements is most successful for you.
The power-tool of conversion rate optimization – A/B testing
A/B testing is a statistical method of comparing two versions of a webpage and predicting which one will perform better. The theory is not very complicated, all you need is to serve each version of the page randomly and after a while the winner will emerge. You can use A/B testing to optimize for clicks, conversions or sign-ups.
There are plenty of tools that can help with A/B testing. Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer are among the leading tools. They let you manage the entire A/B testing process – from making the changes to the page, and running the two versions as a controlled experiment, to choosing the winner and making sure that results are statistically significant.
However, most entrepreneurs lack the time or experience necessary to really effectively optimize their websites, but there are plenty of strategic internet marketing service companies and marketing consulting firms out there that can help you with testing and tweaking your site to pull in the best response.
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who decide to stay and actually order something from your ecommerce website or take advantage of the services that you supply, or whatever the goal of your website may be. If you can keep a person from clicking away for thirty seconds, the odds of retaining him or her improve astronomically.
However, leaving visitors for over 30 seconds on your website is not easy. There are a few issues that arise most often which result in loss of conversion after that precious 30-second mark. Therefore, your first goal is to keep the visitors for at least half a minute. To do that, you need the following:
- Bounce rate analysis. Spare a look at bounce rates on your site’s homepage or other pages to see how many visitors don’t click on any other link on the site. This will help you understand how well pages are performing.
- Ask people why they leave. Say a page has over 80% bounce rate. You need to pay attention to it and ask questions to your visitors to find the exact reasons behind this. You may use something like Qualoroo to achieve that.
- Call to action analysis. Maybe the call to action isn’t clear or the design was confusing. It’s been found that adding images that point to the call to action can effectively increase CTR.
Using SSL throughout
You may have the most secure website on the planet. However, if your customer does not know this, you run the risk of losing them. Having the https in the address bar helps, but it is often not enough. Take a tip from the flower websites like Proflowers.com or 1800flowers.com and go the extra mile.
They not only have the https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) which tell them the site is secure, they have that one screen that tells the customer they are shopping in a secure site with the emblems and seals from the companies that ensure it.
You may lose conversions if:
- The website is not doing a good job of convincing customers of a secure shopping experience;
- There is inadequate Contact Us and About Us information; and
- There are too many unexplained questions during the payment/shipping information process.
Don’t ask for a lot of information
Look at the example above. At least two fields can be avoided (guess which).
The first thing many customers do when faced with the “checkout here” message is to check the website’s Contact Us and often the About Us pages. These pages should contain reassuring information about the company with several methods of contact including an email address, a physical mail address, (preferably both physical and P.O. Box number) and a phone number. The best-case scenario would list a street address and a toll-free phone number, as customers relate these with a professional company and feel reassured.
Asking for a ton of information during the checkout process without an explanation of what the information will be used for is the number one cause of loss of conversion. Potential customers will give a name, a shipping and billing address, and a credit card almost willingly, but ask for a phone number and they start dropping like rain. If you must have a phone number, minimize the damage with either an outright explanation or a hover-over link that explains “Why?”
One of the first things a customer will think is that you are going to sell that number to a list. The problem is that very often they are right. Even if you are planning to do this, a simple explanation that the number is needed as a contact in case something goes wrong in shipping is enough to secure the sale and make this a good conversion.
The flower websites do this with a message that reads: “In case we need to contact you during delivery.” This way, the customer feels worry-free writing down the information because of the reason provided.
Using videos on the homepage for conversion optimization
Neil Patel of CrazyEgg says that the explainer video on the CrazyEgg homepage is responsible for $21,000 in additional revenues every month. However, when planning a great explainer video, what matters more than the cost of the video, is the quality of the script.
Also, according to Peep Laja, while videos do increase conversions, only 10% of the visitors proceed to watch it. Amongst the 10% who watch, various factors like length of the video, the clarity of presentation, in addition to voice and style, will influence the decision whether to watch the full length of the video.
Peep suggests that one should also have a supporting copy around the video, which explains what the video is about. One should ensure that a person landing on a landing page doesn’t go away empty-handed.
Video is a conversion rate optimization tool; don’t make it a barrier.
Conversion rate optimization is your best bet for outsmarting and outpricing your competitors. In a nutshell, these are the things that can make or break your conversions:
- Interesting and original content
- A structure to your website that is easy to follow
- An excellent, even hypnotic call to action (It is possible. If you do not believe it, click here.)
- A good user experience
- A website that is user-friendly
- Pleasing and interesting design
- Navigation that does not shoot itself in the foot
Conversion rate optimization is simple if you apply solid principles that work. It really is that simple. Start off small, and still, you may even see huge improvements.