Conversion Rate Optimization: The Art (or Science) of optimizing your web site to influence users to take the action you want them to take. This is why you have a web site, because you want your users to do something. And the more something’s your users do, the more effective your web site and the better the return on investment for your company. So if the name of the game on the web is to convert as many users as possible, how can you make your website more effective in converting users?
Every website has unique objectives, so the approach to conversion rate optimization requires different tactics for an individual website. Some sites may require a checkout (ecommerce), other sites a lead (complete a form), while, we have one client who defines his “conversion” as how much time a user spends on his website.
Regardless of the type of conversion you need, Merge has found that the following three factors are key to maximizing your conversion rates.
From a conversion perspective, the design of a website is the most important aspect amongst all variables involved. The difference between better converting design and worse converting design usually boils down to not confusing the visitor in what he is expected to do on a page. Take a look at the examples below:
Base camp homepage design: 14% increase in conversions
What made the newer design convert 14% more visitors? A clean design. The new design clearly guides a visitor towards Plans and Pricing link while the old design presented a whole lot of choices, making the path to conversion more confusing. The clean design reduced the clutter and visually communicated the benefit to the user, accompanied by a clear call-to-action. The example above really doesn’t show conversion, instead, it was a more effective way to get the user to the landing page (Plans and Pricing), which then drove the user to sign-up. The point here is that design made a difference, but we could also infer that more effectively getting users to the landing page will drive higher conversion rates as well.
Gyminee homepage redesign: 20% increase in conversion rate
In addition to reducing the number of choices for the visitor, having a design that shows you as a professional and trustworthy company can also increase conversions. Take a look at the following case study, where the redesigned sales page has various trust elements (seal, money back guarantee, testimonials) and the design has various little tweaks (color scheme, buttons instead of links for download, layout, etc.) which made it look professional. Note that the sales (not just conversions) increased by 20% just by changing the design. No additional products, no additional traffic, pure conversion rate optimization.
We can also deduce that less is more. A simple, visually appealing landing page was 20% more effective than a fully designed home page.
Headline and Copy
When a visitor arrives on your website, it’s the design/brand name AND the headline of the page that influences his decision to engage with your page. Visitors’ attention is the costliest commodity on the Internet and your page’s headline is where it goes right after arriving on it.
Take a look at the case study below where 37Signals tested different kinds of headlines (and the winning one boosted conversion rate by 30%).
Highrise Headline test – 30% increase in conversions
The winning variation said “30-day Free Trial on All Accounts” and worst performing variation said “Start a HighRise Account”. Note that the clear, no-nonsense headline won. If you think about it, if a visitor is on Signup page he obviously knows that he is signing up for HighRise account. The winning headline clearly convinces the already interested visitor that there is nothing to lose as they offer a 30-day free trial.
Another example of how much headlines matter: CityCliq, a startup in local marketing industry, split tested the positioning of their product.
CityCliq headline test: 90% increase in conversions
Here are different headlines they tested:
- Businesses grow faster online! (too fuzzy and so what if they do)
- Get found faster! (found where?)
- Online advertising that works! (too generic)
- Create a webpage for your business (clear, concise and to-the-point)
The winning headline “create a webpage for your business” tells the visitor what exactly CityCliq does, and it’s no wonder it increased conversions by 90%. As the classic web book states: Don’t make me think!
So, you optimized your design, optimized headlines and page copy. Your visitor is interested and motivated to try whatever you are offering. What’s your call-to-action to compel them to act (convert)?
A highly motivated visitor will sniff out even the poorest of all call-to-action buttons. Make note that you are optimizing your call-to-action for the busy, semi-interested visitor. If he can’t locate how to try out whatever you are offering, he will hit the back button.
37Signal’s call to action – signups increased by 200%
The now-omnipresent “See Plans and Pricing” increased signups for HighRise by 200%. Even small changes in call-to-action can have dramatic impact on conversion rates. And the best thing about call-to-action is that they are so easy to test.
Another variable to test is to see which color works best for a call-to-action (unsurprisingly, a bright color such as red generally works better, which may be because they are eye catchy and drives visitors attention towards them). As an example, along with testing “Signup for free” v/s “Get Started Now,” Dmix also tested green v/s red buttons and found out that red worked better.
Dmix case study – 72% increase in conversions, Red beat Green.
Increasing conversions is not making your visitor “think.” Try to make everything obvious and simple, guiding your visitor from headline to copy to call-to-action like a smooth flowing river. In addition to simplicity, the real key to increasing conversion rate is to keep experimenting and testing. Isn’t that why the web is great anyway?