Conversion optimization isn’t a new concept.
It has played a critical role in web design and digital advertising for more than a decade. In recent years, we have seen a rapid shift in attention paid to conversion optimization as bootstrapped and low-budget online businesses look for ways to grow their revenue without a huge expenditure.
Conversion rate optimization focuses on the connection between web design and marketing copy that better helps paint a picture of your product in the eyes of your customers and helps to persuade visitors to take the desired action, whether that action is making a purchase or signing up for your mailing list.
Continuing our Marketing Matters series, we’re going to cover a few basic tenants of conversion optimized design that all businesses should consider when designing & updating their website.
The Importance of Headlines
The headline is one of the most important aspects of any web page.
It should be the first thing that your prospective customers will read and is responsible for capturing their attention and interest enough to keep them reading the rest of the copy on your website.
There are multiple strategies that can be used when deciding on a headline, but generally, your headline and sub-headline together should focus on the benefits your product provides while making it clear what it is that your product does.
Although it may sound simple, getting the message just right takes time and testing.
The headline is also one of the easiest things to test and tweak on your own. If your website is built on a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, almost anyone can log in and make an adjustment.
Remember, you want to keep your tests small and confined so that you can tell what changes are having the biggest impact on website’s effectiveness.
Of course, if you don’t have analytics setup or don’t know have a baseline metric to compare your new changes with… then you’re pretty much out of luck.
Check out this post if you need to get started with setting up your analytics first.
When designing or optimizing a website for conversion, it is important to remember that a large portion of your audience will skim your website, read very little, and typically will retain more information when it is presented in a visual way.
For this reason, you should ensure that your headlines and subheadlines stand out and that you make an effort to spell things in a visually engaging way.
By using images and video to explain advanced concepts, you’ll be able to capture the scrollers attention and hopefully draw them back into the content.
Breaking up longer content with explanatory graphics is a great way to supplement your posts with additional valuable content.
… People love pictures.
… Pictures are worth a thousand words.
…. Yada, Yada, Yada. You get what I’m saying ; )
Talk about Benefits, Not Features
In general, prospective customers are less concerned about what your product or service does, and more concerned with how it will benefit them.
This is as true in web marketing as it is for offline marketing. In fact, your salesmen should also be more focused on providing customers with benefits than boring them to death with features.
No one really wants to know how the sausage is made, they just want to know if it is going to taste really good when they eat it.
Focus on the benefits that each of your features provides, rather than the features themselves.
Try to paint a picture of their lives after they have your product, and tie those features to the ways in which they will improve the lives of your customers.
If you aren’t sure of what your biggest benefits your product has… or you are just guessing at what they are, you need to interview your best customers.
Pick up the phone and give your top 5 customers a call.
Here’re a few basic questions to get you started:
- Why do you choose to work with us in the first place?
- What was the biggest problem you were trying to solve before you became a customer?
- How has X had an impact on your company?
- What was the most annoying thing you had to deal with before you began working with us?
- What makes you happiest about our service or product?
Great marketing copy, almost always, focuses on a customer’s pain points and then explains how whatever you’re offering solves it.
This is a simple concept but it’s also incredibly powerful.
Call To Action
Spell things out and tell your visitors what actions they need to take instead of expecting them to figure it out on their own.
Every page should have one goal.
That goal should be leading your audience to take some sort of action, whether that action is buying your product, subscribing to your mailing list, reading an additional article, downloading helpful content or following your business on social networks. Write each page with that action in mind.
Don’t try and make a customer choose what they should do on a page.
The New York Times has a great post explaining what is going on in a person’s brain when they have too many options to choose from.
If you’re interested in learning more about the problem of “too many choices” you check out the article here. I suggest reading it after you finish this post… but I’m a bit biased; )
To put it bluntly, limit your visitor’s options to only what matters most. Their brain will thank you and your conversions will increase.
Staying Above the Fold
The content that appears “above the fold” (the portion of the website that is seen without scrolling) will be the content that is seen by the largest portion of your visitors.
Like your headline, It is responsible for making them interested enough in your product to keep reading or maybe even entice them into taking immediate action.
This is the prime real estate district of your web page and should typically receive the most attention in the design and updating process.
Keep your above the fold simple and clear.
Like mentioned above, you don’t want to overwhelm visitors with too many options. This is especially true for first-time visitors.
You know what content you have to offer. And if you’re measuring your website’s analytics, you should know which content visitors value most.
This is the content that you should show people first so that you have a better chance of turning hesitant visitors into inquisitive potential leads.
Crystal Clear Navigation
Confusing navigation has to be one of my biggest pet peeves and is definitely one of the fastest ways to make a visitor bounce from your site.
When your customers want to learn more about your business, they have to be able to instinctively know how to navigate around your website without a learning curve.
Simplify your navigation by making the title of each link as descriptive of the content on the page as it can be.
The navigation titles aren’t the place for you to get cute or clever.
People expect to see certain pages in the navigation. Don’t make them go search for those pages, because if they can’t find it quickly they are going to hit the back-button.
For example, when you are considering purchasing a new piece of software, after you’ve read a bit about how it can help your business, what are you wanting to know next?
If you’re like most people, the answer is “How much is this going to cost me?”
Software as a Service (SAAS) companies need to have “Pricing” as one of the options in their primary navigation. And if you take a look at all of the bigger players, most of them now include a page with that exact word.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to have pricing on your site if that doesn’t fit your business model. But you do need to make it clear to customers what it is going to take to move the relationship to the next level.
Social proof plays a big role in the purchasing decision of any customer.
When they see that people they know, whether it is friends, public figures, or other companies in your industry that have endorsed your product it increases trust.
Try to include testimonials and customer experiences wherever it makes sense.
I’ve talked about why it is that people are becoming increasingly less trusting of marketing messaging and brands in general. You can check out that post here.
I think you’d agree though that an honest and concise testimonial is one of the best ways to earn that trust back in a world of overpromising and under-delivering companies.
Hopefully, this post helped you get a better idea of how you can improve your conversion rates. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us or a leave a comment in the section below this post.
If you would like to take steps to improve the conversion rate of your website, please contact us to set up your initial 100% risk-free consultation with our conversion experts.