“Conversion rate optimization really isn’t about optimizing web pages – it’s about optimizing decisions – and the page itself is a means to an end but not an end itself.” – Michael Lykke Aagaard on Unbounce | 3 Landing page optimization mistakes you don’t have to make
Let’s say you have traffic coming to your website, and people are visiting the homepage that you invested a lot of hours and money in. You’ve written a strong company mission and provided amazing details about your company’s history.
You’ve created glowing bios that talk about how great your staff members are.
Given all that effort you’ve put into your website, people should be calling your business, right?
Unfortunately, the reality is that most websites don’t convert visitors to actual clients. That’s because most website owners are shooting in the dark, making guesses on what they think is enough to acquire more customers.
On the other hand, successful internet marketers acquire new subscribers and clients for their businesses through conversion rate optimization. In other works, they implement a series of processes that increase the likelihood of visitors to take some form of action. That can be subscribing to the website or clicking the ‘buy’ button. Incoming traffic and strong conversion rate optimization come together to create the chemistry of success.
Thus, this is an important guide for entrepreneurs and marketers who want to develop a high converting website that resonates with their audience. Visual appeal alone is not enough and it can only help your site go so far. The best websites understand the psychological profile of their visitors and are structured in a way that slowly wins their trust, leading them to become a loyal follower of the business.
Your visitor’s experience navigating your website is a combination of many different aspects, and the idea is to know which aspect needs to be modified and tested so that the overall experience can be improved. However, it’s nearly impossible to know which one is the most important if you can’t focus on each them one at a time. Therefore, the ideas highlighted in this guide serve to highlight which aspects you want to focus and do split A/B testing on.
Conversion rate optimization tip #1: Create powerful headlines that make heads turn
A great headline on your hero image, the first section of your home page, is an incredibly important element because it is one of the first things visitors will see once the web page fully loads, and it gives them reasons why they should explore the rest of the page. Think of it as the first impression you’re making when you are first meeting someone for dinner. It can impact how that person will interact with you for the rest of the meal.
The problem of “Me Too” Headlines
Most companies make the mistake of using their headline to talk about themselves.
“We create the best CRM.”
“We make the best APP.”
It may seem pretty reasonable to focus on talking about oneself in the headline. After all, the company knows more about itself better than anyone.
However, the problem with talking about oneself and saying “We’re the best” is that everybody else is doing it. When buyers keep hearing this message from everybody, they learn to filter it out. Every company saying the same thing ends up becoming a commodity to them. Thus, it pays off to do something unique and stand out from the crowd.
The second and most important reason is people only give their fullest attention to a message if it is in their benefit. No matter how much companies promote themselves as the best out there, people don’t care if it is not immediately obvious about what is in it for them. The truth is that people care more about what the company can do for them than what the company is best at. Instead of saying “We are the best at making moustache combs” as example, it is more compelling to the audience to say “How you can achieve a perfectly combed moustache with ease” and then introduce the product later on. Get the idea?
This is especially important to consider when developing the content on the website. That is because not only do companies often make the mistake of writing the headline to focus on themselves, but they also do the same with the rest of the content about on the site. Instead of focusing on the company itself, the headline and the rest of the content on the homepage should prioritize the buyer.
Thus, your page should answer his question “What is in it for me?” This will have a higher chance of catching and maintaining the buyer’s attention if the website is relevant to satisfying his or her needs, and therefore, he or she is more likely to have a reason to explore the rest of the site and what your business has to offer.
Your audience comes first. Your ideas come second.
There are too many website owners who think that they know what content their visitors responds to the best without doing enough research, and my freelancing career is an analogous to this.
When I started my freelance career delivering websites to clients, I was willing to acquire whatever work I can get. This meant accepting low paying projects that demanded a lot of time and effort. Eventually, I realize that I was working with a lot of clients who are not ideal and the money gained from each project was not worth the massive amount of time and effort I put into each project. A number of them are students who don’t have a lot of money and some of them were not committed to seeing the project into completion, thus, delaying full payment… for eternity. A lot of them would request numerous changes on their website and expect the additional work to be free.
My freelance woes were eventually relieved when I learned to identify better paying clients, who happen to be mid-size business owners or professionals. Not only do they tend to pay on time, but I was able to charge more than I used to. Most of us don’t always put too much thought into who our clients or audience are. As result, we make the mistake of chasing after the wrong people, wasting time and wasting money.
Thus, it is important to know who your target audience is. It may seem to make sense for most business owners to create a website that caters to a general audience. After all, the more people your message is directed to, the better the chance that people will respond to it, right? In reality, this actually dilutes your message. And it ends up not catering to any particular group of people. Who you direct your message to matters more than how many people see your message. Thus, if the site doesn’t look like it’s relevant to the visitor’s needs and desires, he is more likely to bounce out of the website.
That is why it is important that you know who the website is built for and what your audience responds to. Therefore, it is recommended that you build a buyer persona of your audience, which is a collection of characteristics and detailed description on a person that represents the entire audience. And the more descriptive and detailed the buyer persona is, the more accurate your notions about the behavior of your audience and of their preferences. That way you increase the chance of creating content for the people who desire and need it the most.
If your website sells dog accessories, the buyer persona is built around a dog owner, and it has to be as detailed as possible, including the person’s name, job and where he lives. As an example, this dog owner’s name is Jerry. He works at a professional job such as an accountant. He lives in a suburban neighborhood. He hires a dog sitter when he goes on vacation and shops for dog food and accessories on the weekends. He has his dog groomed every summer and loves taking his dog to walks in the park.
This helps generate ideas of what the content of your website should be about so that it stays relevant to the interest of your ideal buyer and it “speaks their language”. With descriptions of the dog owner’s detailed life and preferences, the written content of the website can be about “The Top 10 Parks to Walk Your Dog”, “Best Groomers Around the Local Block”, or “Steps to finding a great dog sitter while you are away”.
Your audience has pain points, issues about their life that they are trying to resolve. And not resolving these issues right away causes them a lot pain and anxiety. Your written content becomes very valuable if they provide real solutions that resolve those pain points. Thus, the more pain points you know that your audience has, the more material you have for your website.
What makes a great headline grab attention?
It is simple and concise, and it touches upon the needs and desires of the visitor. When every other company is saying “We are the best”, your headline should address the visitor’s most important question: “What is it in for me?” That would mean that you will have to know your audience really well and should ask yourself the following questions:
Who is the type of audience my website and business caters to?
What are their needs, desires and top priorities that my website can serve?
What are things causing them pain and frustration, and that they are trying to resolve as soon as possible?
What solution or answer does my website provides to their most pressing needs?
In addition, the best headlines bring promises of satisfying a core desire that the visitor may have. What is a core desire? It is anything that has to do with one’s need for optimizing health, increasing wealth, increasing opportunities for reproductive activities and achieving life experiences.
Nearly every purchase made is to achieve a core desire.
Why do people pay monthly to be a gym member? It helps them maintain their physique, appear attractive to their partners, and prevents acquiring any ailments as they get older.
Why are people willing to pay hundreds to attend a seminar about achieving financial independence? It optimizes their opportunity to increase wealth.
Why do we see commercials of attractive girls posing with a new car? It brings up the idea to a guy that if he purchases that car, he will somehow get the girl of his dreams.
Those are just a few examples.
The best headlines are able to address core desires while being very concise.
For example, My Fitness Pal has a very simple, yet effective headline:
Lose Weight with My Fitness Pal
The Fastest And Easiest to Use Calorie Counter App
Let break down the reasons why:
Who does this cater too? People who want to lose weight
What needs does it address? Losing weight
What solution does the headline provide? Fastest And Easiest to Use Calorie Counter App
You can expect to spend a lot of time coming up with a compelling headline for your article as well as to revise it multiple times, so that it better resonates to your visitors over time.
Conversion rate optimization tip #2: Avoid using sliders as your hero image
It is seriously a mistake an amateur would make, but I see it occurring way too often.
Sliders may make your site more interactive and it can be used to grab attention. However, it is a poor way to communicate your overall value proposition of your business. And that reason is that web users hardly wait to see the slider complete one rotation of slides. An even bigger reason is that a slider present too many messages in one moment and as a result, it communicates nothing to the visitor.
On the contrary, a static banner focuses on one message. This is the case where less is more, because having the visitors focus on one primary message is better than having them read through several messages that seem disjointed with each other.
Sliders may look cool, but it is ineffective and the fad needs to die.
Conversion rate optimization tip #3: Use visuals to drive emotions
…which is important because the average web surfer is driven by emotions and pays more attention to something that excites them or frightens them. It doesn’t matter if the subject is good or bad, but it has to be polarizing. Every decision to reach out to the business or to make a purchase has an emotional component to it. Thus, it will pay off nicely if your website is able to reach out to visitors emotionally. Have strong visuals to tell a story and excite visitors enough to believe what your business has to offer. If you are not a graphic designer, it will pay off really nicely to hire one to come up with amazing visuals for your site.
Conversion rate optimization tip #4: Break up large blocks of text
According to a study done by the Nielson Norman group, the average internet surfer reads only 20% of the content of the web page. If visitors have to read through blocks of text to understand what your business is about and why they should choose to work with you, you are making them invest energy and effort to understanding your business completely. Instead, it is best to remove as much resistance as possible for your visitors to understand what you have to offer. This issue can be resolved with a nice balance between text and visuals on a webpage. As a rule of thumb, for every block of 400 words, a webpage should include an image that corresponds with it. If there is a lot of data and statistics that needs to be written, a brilliant idea is to combine a series of charts and diagrams into a colorful infographic, which can really help make your content stand out.
In addition, if you have the time and resources, you can also use animated explainer videos as an alternative to written text to promote your business. Video marketing is the future and what every online marketer should know is that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. It is no wonder that fun and engaging videos help to increase conversation rates. As a food for thought, Hubspot reported that “69% of people have been convinced to buy a piece of software or application by watching a video.” Thus, take advantage of the power of video marketing.
Conversion rate optimization tip #5: Use the right color scheme for your site
…For color has value beyond aesthetics. Not only can your color scheme make and break the visual appeal of your site, but it can affect how your visitors react to your site. A site with too little color will look plain and bland, but a site with too much color will look gaudy.
Different types of business will require different color psychology.
For example, if you are operating a site that caters to kids, its design could benefit from lighter tint colors.
If you are operating a site that is more professional, the design will work better with darker shades that intermix between white and black.
You should always think about your audience first, and what they best respond to should dictate the colors chosen for the site. Therefore, visitors will be more likely to create a subconscious connection to the site itself.
Conversion rate optimization tip #6: Use Contrast to Highlight Important Elements
Imagine driving in the freeway and out of the corner of your eye, you spotted a pink car. The only reason it caught your attention was because its color stood out, and it is not often that you see a pink car being driven around. Thus, in order for something to be prominent and to catch attention, it has to contrast the environment or background it is in.
For this reason, the elements on your website operate in the same way. If the purpose of your website is to get people to take some form of action whether that is to click a button or call a business number, the website needs to be make that clear with contrasting colors.
For example, if the purpose of a page is to get people to click on a button to take a survey, and the background and most of the elements of the site have darker colors, the button should have a lighter color, so that it stands out from the rest of the page. If that entire site consist a blend of lighter colors, use darker or more tinted colors.
Some of the best colors to choose for your buttons or other call-to-action elements are red and yellow, as long as those colors contrast with the rest of the page.
Conversion rate optimization tip #7: Give the elements of your website some life with animation
It is not totally necessary, but it is the seasoning on the steak. Because we live in an age of information and constant digital distractions, there is a greater need to come up with ways to stand out and catch people’s attention. The average web surfer has very limited attention span. Thus, a great way to maintain the visitor’s attention is to add interactive elements to your site. For example, when the user scrolls down a page, features on the webpage becomes animated as they appear on the screen such as jumping buttons, text and images materializing into the screen.
Bring life to your page with animated, creative, ingenuous, lovely words.
Conversion rate optimization tip #8: Lead your audience with a Call-To-Action
You may have great convincing content on your web pages, but it won’t matter if you don’t have a call to action, which is some form of action that you are asking the visitor to take, whether that is to submit their contact information, call your business number or try out a demo.
Sites that implement a call to action have a better conversion rate than sites that don’t. This brings up a story of a time where I knew a friend who has a great looking website, but made a mistake of not implementing Call-to-Action on any of his web pages. He was wondering why he was not generating a leads from his site, until someone gave him feedback saying, “Your site convinced me to purchase from you guys, but I literally have no idea how to contact you to do so.” After simply adding his business phone number onto his web pages, his phone started ringing.
Thus, a website should take all the guess work out of contacting your business, making a purchase or whatever you want your customers to do. Having a clear call-to-action is an essential element that no successful website can do without.
Conversion rate optimization tip #9: A mobile responsive site commands a high conversion rate
It’s important that your site displays well on mobile devices these days because most people would research information on their mobile phones about a company that they are thinking of doing business with. Furthermore, more than half of internet traffic comes from mobile phones as well as 27% of ecommerce transactions are made by mobile users. Therefore, if you want your site to convert well with mobile users, the mobile version of the site should display just as well as the desktop version.
In addition, if you want your site to rank well on Google, getting your site to be mobile responsive gives it a competitive advantage since it helps to make it easier for the search engine to crawl through it. Furthermore, it benefits user experience of the site as well, a ranking factor that search engine algorithm would consider.
Thus, making your site mobile friendly should be a no brainer. Here’s a webpage that tests how mobile friendly your site is: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
Conversion rate optimization tip #10: Avoid driving your users away with a slow site
Have you ever waited 15 seconds for something to load? Chances are that you will feel fidgety and impatient for those 15 seconds to pass. In fact, over half of mobile users will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load, which will in effect increase the bounce rate of your website and decrease its rankings in return. If it takes very few seconds for web surfers to click out of your site out of whim, it is important to make sure your site loads fast, which will benefit the user experience of your site. A faster load time is a great ally to conversion rate optimization.
Here are the following tips below to speed up your webpage:
1.) The unfortunate thing about having a graphics heavy site is that the size of the visuals can tend to bog down the page they are on. Thus, to resolve this, compress the size and resolution of your images without sacrificing too much visual quality.
2.) Never, ever upload a video onto your site, because most videos take a ton of space on your server. You’re better off using an external hosting platform such as Youtube, Vimeo or Wistia. However, take caution when embedding too many videos onto your webpage, because this causes the website to send extra requests, which also slows down the page. To resolve this, use light boxes that allows the video to be played in a pop up window only when the user clicks on the link. That way the webpage doesn’t have to do a number requests at the same time when it’s loading. It only doesn’t one request when the video is played.
3.) Don’t put too many third party widgets on our webpage. Otherwise, your webpage will do too many call requests, slowing down your site.
5.) Use CDN, or a Content Delivery Network if possible, which caches your site on a global network of servers.
This resolves two factors that slow loading times, which are:
a.) High levels of traffic coming to your site.
b.) The long distance that information has to travel especially when your users are physically far away from your web server. The longer the distance, the more time it takes for information to reach their browsers. By having a CDN near your users’ local areas, the distance is cut down and those your website will load faster on their computers.
6.) Make sure your site is not hosted a shared hosting plan, and that’s because chances are there other websites hosted on the shared server, and they are competing for bandwidth with your site. Instead, get dedicated hosting to ensure that your site doesn’t have to compete for bandwidth.
7.) Enable browser caching, which is a way for your browser to save elements of your site, so the next time a web surfer revisits your site, it loads faster on his or her browser without have to send an HTTP request to your server.
Check out GTMetrics to test out how fast your web pages are performing.
Conversion rate optimization tip #11: Social proofing your brand
What is a great way to increase your reputation for your business? Having a strong base of clients consisting of reputable companies.
And a great way to show that you have worked with them is to put their logos on your site, preferably in a stylish carousel.
And another great way is to…
Include glowing testimonials
People will always have objections in their mind about making a purchase. Thus, showing testimonials about your clients’ experiences with your business will help your prospects negate their own concerns. If your clients are happy with your business, then ask them to tell the world what they think about the experience.
However, the type of details your client reveal about your business in their testimonials matter and thus, it is important to ask them the right questions to encourage them to give well thought responses.
Here are the following questions to ask:
“What is problem or issue that you were trying to solve?”
The purpose of a product and service is to be a solution to an existing problem that your buyer has. It is very likely that the solution you offer can resolve more than one different type of problem. By asking this question, you are allowing your clients to bring up multiple issues that they are trying to solve, and there is a great chance that readers can relate to those issues.
“What were your doubts before deciding the work with our business and how were they resolved?”
Chances are that your clients and your prospects have the same doubts running in their head before they do business with you. By asking this question, your prospects see their objection being brought up and resolved in the testimonial.
This is pretty powerful for reasons that it can handle any hidden objections that your prospect is not bringing up into the discussion, but are clear reason for them to not make a purchase from you.
Also, there is no reason to think the answers are biased because they come from your clients, a third party, rather than from you. This is how social proof provided through testimonials gives your business more credibility.
“What is the result you got from working with the business?”
It’s important that your client spells out the results he received from doing business with you. After all, results are all that people care about.
If you web development business, your clients care about the revenue generated from the website you have built for them.
If you own high end fashion store, your customers care about raising their social status amongst their friends with clothes you are selling to them.
You establish a strong reputation if your business actually delivers the things it promises to the world.
“What is the specific feature that you like most about the product or service?”
This helps the client think deeper about their experience with your business and thus, nudges them to talk more in depth about details. As a result, the more details that the client expresses, the higher chances are that the reader of the testimonial will relate to them and will start connecting with the client’s experience. This makes it easy for prospects to trust what you have to offer.
“Would you like to recommend this product/service to someone else? If so, why?”
This is a great question if the client answers honestly because he is putting his own reputation on the line by answering this question. By agreeing to recommend your business to someone else, he promising that other people should be able to achieve the same favorable results he received if they were to work with you. This builds a lot of social proof for your business.
“Is there anything else you like to add?”
What’s the benefit of asking this open ended question? Sometimes you get an amazing response from your clients if you have delivered a great experience to them. You never know what they will say until you ask them. They can give heartfelt explanations about your delivery and how their lives are changed for the better.
If you are motivated to ask your clients for testimonials after reading this piece, here’s a recommended advice: Instead of sending them an email text asking all these questions, ask them to do a recorded video interview with you. The reason is that when you ask your clients to talk instead of writing, they will give longer and more thought out answers, and they will treat the questions more seriously. After all, they are putting their own face into the testimonials, so their reputation is on the line. Furthermore, viewers of the video testimonials will get to see their facial expressions and tonality of their voice, so that they have more information to judge the experience you have given to your clients regarding your delivery. Thus, they trust the information to be more authentic.
If your clients can’t meet with you on location for the video interview, you can alternatively ask them do the interview online. There are several software applications you can us to hold the meeting and record it.
Zoom is a free tool that you can download onto your computer and it allows you to hold a video conference meeting online. To set it up, you just send them a link that Zoom will create for you.
The link will allow them to download zoom onto their computer within a matter of seconds and access the video conference with you.
Open Broadcaster Software
To record the conference, you can use an open source recording and streaming application called Open Broadcaster Software. With a little time invested to learn how to use it, you can record your desktop screen or just the Zoom window for your conference.
What good conversion rate optimization look like overall
What is the difference between a mediocre website and a great website? It can be measured by how visitors react to it. A great website provides a seamless navigation experience that your visitors will immerse themselves into. It sends a clear message and excites visitors with emotion. With that emotion, you channel it into an action you want them to take, a Call-to-Action. With countless prospects being funneled into your door, you can expect to see your business grow significantly. Take care of your website as if it’s your child. Help it grow and evolve.