Picture this; you’re a small business owner who has a website. You check out your website analytics every day, and you’re impressed with what you see.
Your traffic stats are consistently high – and improving. Plenty of people visit your site, so things must be going well, right?
But, when you look at some other business data, the results shock you. Somehow, you’re not generating more leads, you’re not making more money, and you’re just not growing. How is this possible when it seems like your website is doing its job and reeling in traffic?
Enter the start of the show, conversion optimization.
What is conversion optimization?
In layman’s terms, it’s the process by which you increase the percentage of web traffic that takes the desired action. This action can be anything you deem important. Most of the time, it’s things like this:
- Filling out a contact form
- Clicking on a link
- Ordering a product/service
- Sending an email
- Adding yourself to a mailing list
The actions themselves aren’t that important, it’s the way you get people to perform them that matters. When a user completes your desired action, then you have a conversion! By optimizing your conversions, more people complete actions – simple.
In this guide, you will be shown everything you need to know about conversion optimization. We’ll run through some key definitions, outline how to get started and provide tips on how you measure your performance. When you’ve reached the end of the guide, you should have a firm grasp on conversion optimization and how you can improve your conversion rate. So, let’s get started.
What is the conversion rate?
Conversion rates have been around since people first started setting up shops and selling goods. Effectively, it’s a figure that tells you how successful your current conversions process is. Let’s look at a simple example of this to explain it in more detail.
You have a small shop that gets 200 customers in it during the day. That’s a lot of foot traffic, and you manage to get 100 sales. As such, you have a 50% conversion rate as you made a sale for every other customer.
Now, let’s extend this example to the digital world. Here, you decide what a conversion is. We already mentioned a few instances earlier, so let’s go with filling a form. You have a web page, and there’s a form at the bottom that you want visitors to fill in and send you their information. Every time someone does this, it’s a conversion.
So, imagine your web page has 1,000 visitors, and 200 of them fill in the form. That’s 200 conversions or a conversion rate of 20%.
Do you understand? Conversion rates are calculated by taking the number of conversions and dividing it by the number of visitors the page received. Obviously, you times that figure by 100 to get the percentage!
When it’s broken down for you like that, conversion rates are a relatively simple concept!
How do you improve your conversion optimization?
As you can see, improving your conversion rate means that you are achieving more of what you want to achieve. Apologies if that’s quite an ambiguous statement, but it’s just because conversions can be defined in so many ways. In most cases, conversions refer to sales. So, improving your conversion rate will lead to more sales.
The million-dollar question (quite literally in some cases) is how do you improve your conversion rate optimization?
To start, you must think about what you’re trying to do. The goal is to get people to complete actions, which means you must make them more interested in doing so. With that in mind, we will provide an in-depth analysis of what you should do to improve your conversions.
However, before we do that, we’re going to look at what you shouldn’t do. It’s important to get this out of the way as it will soon highlight some things that you’re probably guilty of!
What not to do when improving conversion rate optimization!
There are two main mistakes people make when optimizing their website for conversions:
- They make guesses
- They copy other websites
Now, we all like to think of ourselves as smart people. After all, if you run a business, then you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. The problem is that we can sometimes be a bit too smart. We think we know everything, so we make decisions based on our gut feelings and prior knowledge.
With conversion rate optimization, this tends to go a little like this. You see you’re not making many conversions, so you wonder what the problem could be. You start thinking about things from your own perspective and wondering what you’d like to see if you were visiting your site. So, you make an educated guess and just tweak something or add a new item to your site in the hope that it improves conversions. It won’t.
The next problem is copying other sites. You look at your rivals and see what they’re doing. How does their website differ from yours? You’ll make notes, then change your site to be set up more like your rivals. Again, this rarely ever works, unless you’re truly lucky.
What’s the underlying issue with both things?
There’s no evidence to back up your decisions. Things are done on a whim, and you don’t have cold hard facts or data to justify what you’re doing.
This brings us to the steps you should follow to improve your conversion optimization. We’ve listed them below, and we advise you to take your time reading over them. Don’t skim through them, take in all the information, so you understand what to do!
A/B testing is a mainstay in the digital marketing world. It can be a bit tricky to get your head around at first, but you’ll soon understand it.
As the second half of the name suggests, this method is built around the idea of testing things. The ‘A/B’ part of the name refers to how you’ll conduct the testing. Effectively, you split your website traffic up into two different groups:
- Group A
- Group B
Both groups will see different versions of your website. The aim is to make little changes to see if it makes a difference to the conversion rates. You can change things like:
- Font type
- Font sizes
- Background colors
- Website design
- Menu layout
The list is endless, but the trick is to only make one change at a time.
It’s not a trick; it’s the fundamental rule of A/B testing. Stray from this rule, and you will mess everything up.
Why is it so crucial?
Imagine you have one version of your site for and you make a handful of changes. You add a new call-to-action at the bottom of the page, you play around with the color scheme, and you alter some of the text on the page. Group A sees the original version, and you’ve got a conversion rate of, say, 15%. Group B sees the altered page, and your conversion rate shoots up to 20%.
That’s awesome, but what changed this? How can you nail down the one factor that led to your 5% jump? You can’t because you made too many changes in one go.
By contrast, imagine you just changed the color scheme. Here, the conversion rates stay the same. Then, you make another alteration and alter the text. Again, the conversion rate is the same for both A and B. Lastly, you add in a new call-to-action. Suddenly, your rate is up to 20%.
In this scenario, you know what caused the jump – it was the new call-to-action. So, you can discount the other changes as they didn’t do anything.
Slowly but surely, you’ll test a variety of things and reach a point where you know how to genuinely optimize your site for conversions. Now, you can make the desired alterations to your original site and make it public for everyone to see.
A/B testing is highly recommended, but it can be time-consuming. Regardless, there’s no better way of gaining hard evidence to support your decisions. You will see what influences your conversions, and what can bring the rate up or down. It’s far better than taking an educated guess.
Limit the Options & Create Urgency
As someone who owns a business, you should know about the human psyche. Human beings react differently in certain situations – particularly when faced with choices. There’s an interesting concept called the paradox of choice that’s perfect here.
We won’t go into too much detail, but the premise is that we don’t like to be faced with too many options. Having some options is excellent, as we hate only having one. But, when we have too many, we tend to avoid choosing any. It can make you feel overwhelmed, you don’t know which one to choose, so you end up walking away. Most of you can probably relate to that in some way!
What’s this got to do with conversion optimization?
Well, we can take this idea and apply it to your website. Limit the options you give people but do it cunningly.
Don’t cut out everything from your site and only include one option. Instead, you could have a few options, but make it feel like the user is running out of options to choose from. This works best when your aim is to generate sales. Companies do this all the time on their site.
For example, they have product listings, but under certain products, they put ‘Selling fast!’ or ‘Going soon.’ Suddenly, there’s a sense of urgency. Instead of having loads of options, the user feels compelled to act fast and pick the product before it gets sold out.
Airlines do this with basically every flight they sell. They’ll always have ‘Only x number of seats left at this price’ as a way of encouraging conversions.
It’s simple psychiatry – we don’t want to miss out.
Another way to apply this method is to limit the amount of time people must act. This can be used for lots of different conversions, not just sales.
For instance, if you want people to fill in a form, then add a sense of urgency with a timer on your page. There could be a banner counting down the clock and telling users to fill in a form within the next however many hours/minutes, or they’ll miss out on something. Suddenly, they’re a little bit intrigued and stunned. The time limit almost forces them to act.
So, the two key takeaways from this step are that you can’t dilute your website with too many choices. It’s never a good idea to have loads of different calls-to-action littered on the same page. Users see too many things, and they choose none. Secondly, you must add urgency. Make it seem like your traffic is going to miss out if they don’t act fast. Put them under pressure, and they’ll soon convert.
Customer Value Proposition
Pay attention to this term as it is a key one in the world of conversion optimization. CVP is all about providing your leads with more value. Not only that, but you give them the value that they can’t get anywhere else.
It’s a classic sales tactic that people have been using since the market stalls of Ancient Egypt. Think about things from your customer’s point of view; what makes your business special compared to others? Why the heck should they click your link or fill in your form? Why should they buy your products or sign up for your service?
If someone believes that they will benefit in some way from choosing your business, then they’ll more likely convert. It’s a very simple concept, but there are a few key things to be wary of.
Primarily, you have two questions to answer when creating your customer value proposition:
- What do you do?
- Why should the user be interested in you?
When someone lands on your website, both questions should be clearly answered for them. They should glance at your page right away and know exactly what you sell/do, and why you’re better than anyone else.
What happens if you only answer one question?
Well, this is frighteningly common. So many businesses are too concerned with telling people what they do. Your website might have loads of text of banners that say things like ‘the best marketing agency around’ or ‘the number one place for shoes.’
Lines like this only tell your visitors what you do. Sure, they might be a bit impressed, but it’s basically just empty words because they’ll visit a rival site that says the same thing! They have no reason to do anything because you’ve not given them a CVP.
The same is true when you do things the other way around and only explain why users should be interested in you. It’s great that you’ve answered this question, and it will intrigue the user. However, they’ll be confused if they can’t figure out what they do. As such, they lose interest and leave your site.
With that in mind, here’s a checklist of things to help you create an excellent customer value proposition:
- Make it clear what your website is about and what you’re offering – you can use images and texts to do this. If you sell shoes, include pictures of shoes!
- Show the user why they should buy from you – this can be a one-liner or a heading that says something like ‘get 25% off your first purchase’. It shows the user that they will gain something from choosing you that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
- Don’t forget the call-to-action- it’s all well and good having a CVP, but you need to get people to act. You’ve reeled them in, now place a clear call-to-action, so they complete the action you’re looking for. This can be a big ‘Buy Now’ button, etc.
As we mentioned earlier, a CVP is such a clever way of increasing your conversions by thinking about the user. The key is considering what they deem valuable. This will vary from business to business, so we can’t give a clear answer here. But here are some examples:
- Limited edition items that are unique to your business
- Loyalty rewards
- Positive experiences
When it comes to the CVP itself, you can play around with how you present it. Some websites use it as a headline, others have it as a sub-heading or bold piece of text. It’s common to create an image that displays the CVP or even produce a selection of bullet points.
If you’re still having trouble with this idea, then think of it this way; what unique benefits can you provide?
Customer Support & FAQs
Conversion optimization is all about identifying what you can do to convince more people to take an interest in your business and what you have to offer. Therefore, you must think about things that could perhaps put them off.
Keeping that in mind, it’s a good idea to imagine yourself in a physical store. You’re thinking about buying something, you may even have the product in your hands, but something holds you back.
What is it?
In many cases, you have a question or some sort of issue that you can’t solve on your own. If nobody is around to help you, then what’s the natural action to take? You put the product down and walk away.
But what is there’s a shop assistant lurking nearby. You talk to them, ask your question, and solve the issue. Now, you have no problems, and you feel confident about buying that product.
A great example is a vegan person looking to order food at a restaurant. They see a dish, but they’re not 100% sure if it’s vegan or not. So, they ask the waiter, and he can confirm if it is or isn’t. Without the support of the waiter, the individual won’t risk buying the meal.
Now, let’s bring this back to website conversion optimization – what does it all mean?
Essentially, you can improve conversions with excellent support on your website.
That’s right, you can get more people to complete actions if you provide them with as much support as possible. This is because you’re playing to one of the things that hold back a lot of leads – personal concerns.
As the examples above have illustrated, people have concerns about just about anything. When you have a concern, you won’t take any risks until you’re sure that your concern is pointless.
Therefore, you need to address their key concerns.
How do you do this? By implementing these two ideas:
- Live Support
- Frequently Asked Questions
Both ideas will tackle the problem head-on. They let you respond to any concerns in real-time. This way, users will find the answers they’re after without needing to leave your site. So, the chances of conversions will increase.
Live Support is more and more popular thanks to modern software. Nowadays, it’s easy to install a little virtual assistant on your site that can answer any user queries. It’s fast, simple, and basically acts as a digital sales assistant. Concerns are addressed, users are left happy and informed, and actions are completed.
Frequently asked questions work in the same way. You compile a list of questions that you think users will ask and provide all the answers for them right away. It’s a good idea to list your FAQs at the bottom of your pages so people can scroll down and see them. A cheeky indicator that tells them where the FAQs are will also help.
We suggest speaking to existing customers and generating feedback for what their biggest concerns were. This helps you create an extensive list of questions. Also, it’s okay to check rival websites in this situation as they may have some FAQs that are relevant to you. Lastly, you most likely received emails or messages from people in the past with questions, so make notes of them and include them.
The beauty of FAQs is that there’s instant gratification for the user. They can find the answers right away. The only downside is that you might not cover everyone’s concerns. Someone could have a very specific problem, and you have no FAQ to answer it.
Consequently, it makes sense to have both FAQs and a Live Support function on your site, to cover all bases.
Eliminate any concerns that users may have, and you will increase your conversions.
Avoid Technical Jargon
The last step on your journey to conversion optimization success is to look at your writing. Every website will be filled with text in some capacity. Whether you’re explaining what your website is about or talking about a product/service, there will be text.
Now, there’s a critical trap that lots of business owners fall into when writing the text for their site – they make it too complicated.
You want to impress people visiting, so you try and make your website seem as professional and clever as possible. There are loads of long words, plenty of technical jargon, and it gives the impression that you seriously know your stuff.
This is great, right? Users will see all the complex lingo and think you’re the real deal. So, conversions for you all day long!
If anything, it has the opposite effect.
When you go super-technical, people don’t understand what you’re trying to say. The words make no sense, the jargon goes in one ear and out the other, and it puts them off. People want to be 100% sure they understand what they’re getting into. They want to know who you are, what you do, and why you’re better than everyone else.
The simple way to do this is to take on a more conversational tone. Write about how you would speak. When you talk to someone you rarely use loads of complicated and technical words because you don’t want them to stare blankly at you. Apply this same concept to your website text, and you will see an improvement in conversions.
If users understand what they’re reading, they’re more likely to complete the desired action.
Why is conversion optimization so important?
The previous five steps will help you get started with conversion optimization. At this point, you will look at all of this and think you have a big job on your hands. You’re right, but should you be put off by all the work?
Some of you might be, and you’re probably wondering why bother? Why is conversion optimization so important?
As you would expect, there are many reasons to put lots of effort into conversion rate optimization:
- Improve your ROI – if your website doesn’t convert, then you’re wasting money. By optimizing your conversions, you get a better return on your investment. The money you pump into your website leads to more conversions, which can be turned into customers and sales.
- Increased revenue – on a similar note, conversion optimization can help you boost your revenue by making more sales.
- A better understanding of your customers – you will learn so much about your customers when you explore conversion optimization. You start to understand what makes them tick and what they respond to. This will serve you well in future marketing campaigns.
- An upgraded website for users – the things you do to improve your conversion rates will benefit the traffic on your site. You provide a better user experience. Funnily enough, this can have consequences for your SEO and help you achieve a better search ranking.
See, conversion optimization has some crucial benefits for your business. If you ignore it, then you’re in a situation where your website is just a bit worthless. You can’t grow unless you consistently look to improve your conversion rate. This shows that you’re generating more leads and creating more sales opportunities.
Conclusion – Conversion Optimization Summed Up
To finish this guide, we want to sum up all the key points. Firstly, conversion optimization is the art of improving the number of people who complete an action on your website. Actions vary from page to page and business to business. Your conversion rate is a percentage that’s discovered by dividing the number of conversions by the number of people visiting that page.
Improving your conversion rate is essential if you want your business to grow and be more successful. To do this, you must focus on these five fundamental ideas:
- A/B Testing
- Limiting Choices & Adding Urgency
- Customer Value Proposition
- Customer Support/Facts
- Avoid Technical Jargon
Please also bear in mind that A/B Testing is like a guide to help you get the most out of all the other ideas. When you make any of the other changes, you need to test the response before you commit to them. This ensures that you make the right moves and only do things that will benefit your conversion rate.
The final thing we’d like to touch on is the idea of a good conversion rate. We’ve thrown some numbers around in this guide, but they were plucked out of thin air for the purpose of simple calculations! Realistically, the average conversion rate across all industries is 2.35%. The top 25% of websites have a conversion rate of above 5.31% and the top 10% are all above 11.45%.
So, use these figures as a benchmark to measure your success. When you make changes to your site, see what the new conversion rate is. Also, set a figure that you want to aim for – it could be 5%, 10% – whatever you want. Always try and stay above the average conversion rate. If you dip below it, then you know something must change. If you’re already below it, then get started today.
On that note, we officially bring this guide to an end. We hope you’ve learned more about conversion optimization and how to improve your conversion rate. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.
Is your company in need of help? MV3 Marketing Agency has numerous Marketing experts ready to assist you. Contact MV3 Marketing to jump-start your business.