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In anticipation of its 2009 launch, the creators of Sims 3 hired a third party marketing company to help them drive in registrations on their website. They proceeded to test six variations of the game’s launch site, each focused on a single theme, and continued to test and tweak smaller features within each variation. After five months, all of the variations increased registrations by 43% on average, with the best performing one yielding a 128% lift over the original page.
Everyone understands that traffic to your website is good. However, if this traffic does not convert into paying customers, you are wasting both time and resources. There is rarely one single improvement you can make to your website that will create the explosion in conversions you are imagining, rather conversion rate optimization (CRO) requires careful experimentation, creativity, and patience. Regardless of how you experiment, remember first to identify your goals, make hypotheses, test those hypotheses with multiple experiments, and focus in on the area(s) that maximize return-on-investment (ROI). The two most significant areas of experimentation for your website are copy and imagery, however structure and performance can also be significant.
This article presents 14 testable ideas for CRO, demonstrated over time and across verticals. Of course, what is optimal for one website or market may not work at all for another, so testing various strategies is key.
1. Include a clear and specific value proposition.
This should focus on what need/problem your product/service is solving. Include overt benefits and how it is different from what is currently available.
2. Test the headline.
This copy will likely affect your conversion rate more so than any other factor on your website. Test various versions, adapt, rinse, and repeat.
3. Display customer reviews and testimonials.
People tend to look toward the actions of others in new situations, a phenomenon know as social proof. Since most traffic to your website has presumably never visited before, including positive testimonials specific to your product from other customers will make your business more attractive to potential customers.
4. Limit product offerings to avoid choice paralysis.
While offering a few choices of product within a business is fine, too many options can actually cause ‘choice paralysis.’ This happens when a consumer, faced with so many options, is unable to make an informed decision and ends up being less happy with their choice, regardless of what they pick.
5. Reduce any and all friction from allowing customers to buy.
The fewer clicks, forms, and fields required, the more likely a potential customer will become a paying customer. Only ask for what is absolutely required in order to make the sale.
6. Include various Calls-to-Action (CTAs) but do not be annoying.
Experiment with CTAs when people try to leave your website with items in their cart (offer an extra discount), on the homepage after a certain amount of inactivity, and after they have ordered (give referral code). Having a CTA slide down a page can can capture more viewers than a static CTA, as shown here.
7. Use a video on your homepage.
Using a video with real people can help humanize your brand and increase engagement on your website.
8. Guarantee the quality of your product or service.
Offer full refunds outright for unhappy customers on any purchase. This reduces risk for customers interested in buying, which, in turn, increases their likelihood of purchase. The boost in sales from this policy will typically make up for the cost of any returns, plus more.
9. Keep your contact form short and sweet.
If you only need their email, do not make their phone number or last name a required field. Keep it simple, stupid.
10. Avoid the jargon. Clarity > Persuasion.
Avoid using industry-specific jargon. Rather, use simple, clear language to explain the value of your product or service. For example, Uber markets itself as “Everyone’s Private Driver” rather than “A mobile platform instantly connecting commuters with drivers.” Evernote’s homepage (below) simply prompts users to “Remember Everything”, rather than listing off the benefits of its cloud-based note-taking tool.
11. Remove distractions.
Remove or minimize all features of your website that are not relevant to customers taking action.
12. Create authentic scarcity and urgency to buy your product.
There are typically two ways to create scarcity: quantity-related & time-related. An example of the former would be including the stock level next to the item, e.g. “2 tickets left”, while the latter might include a notice “last day to purchase.”
13. Use landing pages and make them consistent with ads.
Landing pages themselves can help increase conversion rates by directing potential customers to a single page, focused on achieving one action, e.g. getting customers to sign up. If you are running pay-per-click ads, make sure copy of ad and landing page are consistent. A good tool for creating landing pages and A/B testing is unbounce.
14. Include real, smiling pictures of your team.
People trust other people. Putting real, smiling faces on your website can help humanize your business.