Four website conversion rate optimization tips
[toc]Conversion rate optimization is essential for any website that sells products, services or ideas. Unless your site is purely informational, you want to ensure that you are efficiently coaxing your visitors to buy, subscribe, click or take other desired actions before they leave for other web destinations.
While there are no real short cuts to conversion rate optimization, you can use your time more efficiently by implementing proven techniques. Generally, you want to make sure that your web pages have proper balance because just a single weakness might be enough to discourage visitors from buying, clicking or subscribing.
In order to keep things simple, we will provide four conversion rate optimization tips that can help you transform your site.
1. Professional quality web design — Before visitors will spend their money on any website, they must first believe the site is credible. Professional page design is an essential factor in convincing prospects that the site is “for real.”
2. A/B testing – The best way to see which types of design, calls to action and other elements work best is to test. Split testing is the easiest way to gauge what actually entices people to take action.
3. Use interaction to engage visitors — Professional salespeople know how important it is to engage their existing and potential clients. Use interactive elements like live chat to communicate with your prospects.
4. Use effective calls to action – Even the best web design, placement of elements and interactive features will not be very effective without a good old-fashioned call to action.
1. Web design and credibility
Website teams spend energy and resources to attract new traffic to their site. Once a visitor lands on a page, however, the first step is for the site to win over their trust. You will have great difficulty enticing someone to spend their money on products or services if they do not view your site as a credible business.
Professional design does not mean that the site must be formal and boring. For example, for a sportswear web store, you would definitely want to create something hip and stylish that will appeal to your target audience. You just need to make sure that the design displays professional quality at all times. No matter how eye-catching the graphics, for example, you must avoid things like spelling errors and simple grammatical mistakes.
Probably the best way to determine the standard you must meet is to visit the sites of your closest competitors. Naturally, you do not want your web pages to have a lower quality look than the competition. At the very least, you want to be there in the same ballpark.
If you are appealing to young people or certain other crowds, you can use slang and jargon so long as it is done the right way. For example, if you are addressing soccer fans, then you really need to know the words and expressions they would use. Even if visitors perceive flaws and errors, they may think twice about doing business with you.
Studies on conversion rate optimization also show that the attractiveness of web pages can make a big difference on whether visitors take desired actions. Web surfers generally expect graphically pleasing content on any site they visit.
A business or organization website that wants conversions must have an aesthetically pleasing design and, in particular, they must have a credible-looking logo. A professional logo is surprisingly powerful in gaining the trust of consumers.
“All credibility, all good conscience, all evidence of truth come only from the senses” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Another expectation of Internet users is page loading speed. In fact, the site should be “fast” in all aspects from video playing to site navigation. Seasoned web shoppers simply do not tolerate sloth when they are ready to purchase products or services. Generally, you want everything on the page to display within four seconds, and the faster, the better.
2. A/B testing
One of the most popular ways to gauge the effectiveness of web design, text content, calls to action and other conversion rate optimization factors is to use A/B testing, small changes make a big difference as you can see from the image, same goes with websites. Another name for this approach is split testing.
Many website teams use the free Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer services to conduct A/B testing for conversion rate optimization. The idea is fairly simple as you use one page as a baseline or “control” for the test. You compare the control web page against other variations of the page to see which one works best.
For example, one visitor may see the control web page, while a second visitor views variation A and a third visitor looks at variation B. You can use software to track the actions of users on each page.
Obviously, the most important thing to look for is the conversion rate of the control, A and B pages. However, there can be other things to observe as well such as time spent on the page and the destination of the visitor upon leaving the page.
In some cases, the advantages in conversion rate might not be that significant, so you can check for other factors that might help boost conversions indirectly. For example, does one page do a better job of getting the visitor to click through to another page on the same site?
The variations that are possible for each page are nearly endless. For example, you can experiment with different page elements and varying placement of those elements. One often neglected placement is that of the call to action. Obviously, this all important feature should be prominent enough that the visitor will not miss it.
Indeed, the whole page should lead the viewer’s eyes toward the final call to action as the last thing that they view on the page.
Testing different textual content is also important and often neglected by web designers. The headline is key to grabbing the attention of each prospect. Generally, you should avoid passive language in headlines. An initial call to action always makes a great headline, for example, “Build muscle with our quality weight sets” rather than something like “Weight sets help build muscle” or simply “Weight sets.”
Readability is also an important consideration for conversion rate optimization. You should avoid filling web pages with excessive text, for example. Most readers will not even bother with huge blocks of small font copy. The trick is to use plenty of “white space” with larger fonts, smaller paragraphs and ample space between paragraphs.
“People don’t always like to read text” – Neil Patel
The adage “a picture paints a thousand words” applies well to web design also. Quality images can help convey messages quickly, especially for visitors who do not like to read textual content. “Before and after” shots, for example, are particularly effective. However, it is important use professional quality images and not familiar clip art or stock photos. Use clickable thumbnails if you must place many images on the same page.
The more that you conduct split testing, the better you will become at recognizing what needs tweaking to improve conversion rates. Sometimes only a small change can make a big difference. Remember though, that in order to get meaningful results, you will need sufficient sampling before coming to conclusions.
Results from a few dozen visitors is not likely sufficient for any generalizations. You should have at least hundreds of visits before you start coming to conclusions.
Depending on your traffic rates, you could even wait for many thousands of visits to get the best statistical results. Another thing to determine is how long to run the test. For example, are there are any periodic sales cycles that apply to your product or service?
An alternative to A/B testing is known as multivariate testing as it involves the use of combinations of variations. With split testing, you test one element against another, for example, a medium-sized headline as A against a larger-sized headline as B.
With the multivariate approach, you might have a different headline together with variations in background color, images and site navigation between the tested pages. One of the advantages of this type of approach is that it allows for speedier trials of many different items.
However, the downside is that results can be more confusing as compared to A/B testing. You may have difficulty in knowing what changes are causing higher conversion rates.
3. Use interaction to engage visitors
Experienced web surfers and shoppers tend to expect a multimedia experience in today’s Internet marketplace. You can keep them on your pages longer by providing interactive content including video, audio and Flash presentations.
Questions and polls are another way to engage your site users so long as you deploy these in a non-intrusive way. Forums, user feedback forms, “like” buttons and “share” buttons are all great ways to interact with the visitor. If someone likes your product page and shares it on Facebook and Twitter, you get a free advertisement!
By tracking your users as they navigate through your site, you can determine what types of products and services they are after and make appropriate suggestions. One trick employed on many sites is to offer a side-by-side comparison of various products offered on the site based on user actions.
Real-time live chat is a method found increasingly on the websites of large brand name companies. You can have a clickable icon for chat, but even more common these days is to have a small chat window appear automatically that asks the user if they need help.
Research shows that live customer support is one of the most effective conversion rate optimization approaches. Some sites experience boosts of 500% or more after implementing live chat boxes for their visitors. Additionally, live support can drastically reduce the length of time that it takes to complete a sale.
4. Call to action
All conversion rate optimization guides stress the importance of an effective call to action. Countless studies demonstrate that the sales prospect is much more likely to perform a desired action when asked in the right way.
Whether you are selling a product or service, asking for petition signatures, or looking for new subscribers, you need to master this all-important conversion rate optimization technique. Everything else you do on the web page leads up to this closing pitch.
Probably the single most important factor in effective calls to action is the use of active language. Do not use questions such as “Could you use a new washing machine?” Instead, ask the reader to take action with something like “Shop with us today for quality washing machines!”
Sometimes, the use of a single word can change the effectiveness of a call to action. For example, one study showed that “Get information” is significantly better than “Order information” in generating conversions. The word “order” is a command that does not convey any type of benefit to the user. On the other hand, “get” suggests that the visitor has something to gain by clicking on the button or link.
Unfortunately, there are no easy rules as to what type of language will work best in all situations. One alternative is to use A/B testing to see which variations work best. Web users tend to act when they perceive they can gain value. Of course, the call to action must also be relevant to them.
For example, a button with word “Download” has a completely neutral value to the reader. If one uses words like “Get your free guide” instead, there are many messages conveyed. For example, the reader knows that they are getting something for free, which is always a great enticement. In this case, they are receiving a “guide,” which should be what the targeted visitor wants.
While these four conversion optimization tips are not comprehensive, they will certainly get you started in the right direction in improving your page results. Remember that with conversions, details often make the difference.
Small changes can have substantial impact on improving sales, clicks and other types of conversions. Web users expect credible, high-quality site design, especially when they are purchasing products or services. You can discover what works best on your pages through extensive A/B testing.
Use interactive elements to engage your visitors. Live chat customer support is particularly effective in boosting conversions and cutting down sales cycle times. Also, do not forget the importance of the call to action in conversion rate optimization. This traditional tool is as relevant as ever in closing the sale.
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