1. Do A/B testing
In real estate it’s about location, location, location. In conversion optimization it’s testing, testing, testing.
Wait! What’s A/B testing in the first place?
A/B testing (or split testing) is a technique for increasing your website’s conversion rate (that’s its ability to turn visitors into customers). If you had two possible headlines for your page and you couldn’t decide which to use, you could run an A/B split test which one works better.
You create two alternative versions of your page (page A and page B), each with a different headline. A/B testing software directs 50% of the incoming traffic to page A and 50% to page B. Both pages have a call to action, and in the end you count how many people took the action.
The page with more conversions (more people taking action) wins.
Your goal should be to have at least one, and preferably several A/B tests running at any given time on your site. There’s no “perfect” when it comes to marketing sites, and the only way you learn about what works and doesn’t work is to continuously test.
2. Create a compelling and clear value proposition
The potential of your conversion rate is determined by the value proposition, making it the most important conversion factor.
What exactly is a value proposition?
It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you. Customers not only want to know “What’s in it for me?” but “Why buy from you?”
If you had just 10 words to explain why people should buy from you instead of the competition, what would you say?
Many marketers try to improve results by changing page elements like font colors and sizes, button shapes, images, incentives, and so on, when the first step should really be focusing on strengthening their value propositions.
If your home page or the product page says “Welcome!” or lists just the name of your company or the product, you’re missing out. Note that there is a difference between the value proposition for your company and your product. You must address both.
What makes a good value proposition?
It must be differentiated from your competitors’ offers.
You may match a competitor on every dimension of value except one. You need to excel in at least one element of value (key important factor for the buyer).
Crafting a value proposition requires substantial reflection on what is unique about your company and your products and services. Having a powerful value proposition is not enough; it must be communicated effectively to achieve optimal results. You need to refine your value proposition until you can articulate it in a single, instantly credible sentence.
However hard you work on expressing your value proposition, to know its true effectiveness you must test to see how it resonates with your ideal prospect. Optimizing value propositions is a continual process that involves identifying, expressing, and testing/measuring. Use A/B testing to do it.
3. Set up a sales funnel
Sometimes what kills your conversions is that you’re asking for the sale (signup, whatever) too fast. People might be “just browsing”, not be psychologically ready or not in a hurry to buy right now.
The more expensive and/or complicated the product, the more time people need before they’re ready to commit.
As I mentioned earlier, for software products sometimes offering a demo or a free trial instead of asking for a signup or purchase can bring significant improvement in conversions. But in many cases you need to just slow down and build a sales funnel to build trust, develop relationship and prove your expertise.
Let’s say your product is an online course on DIY home repair. Here’s how you should go about it.
What the visitor wants
To learn about DIY home repair
What you want
Get the visitor to buy your course
How to do it
Offer valuable free home repair advice via your blog, videos, free reports, whitepapers
Become their trusted advisor
Give them compelling reasons to sign up to your email list (in exchange for some good info)
Free drip content video course via email
Send them to your sales copy and ask for the sale
Some people say it takes at least 7 contacts with a prospective buyer before they’re ready to buy from you. I haven’t seen any recent research to back this up, but I know for a fact that the longer and deeper your relationship with the prospect, the more likely they are to buy from you.
So slow down. Offer value and results in advance, way before asking for the sale. Just capture their email address, so you could continue talking to them.
4. Cut the jargon
Clarity trumps persuasion, always.
Recently I came upon a site with the following value proposition:
“Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle”
What does it mean? Can you now explain what they do and how is it useful to you? Not really, right?
Do not try to woo people with fancy, complicated business language – it just doesn’t work.
You write for people, it’s people who read your site. A marketing director or a purchasing manager are people too. Don’t write for companies, write for people.
Clarity is something that I see marketers constantly struggling with. The best way to re-phrase all of the marketing speak on your site is to imagine you’re explaining your product to your close friend. If there’s a sentence worded in a way that you wouldn’t use in a conversation with a friend, re-word it.
5. Address objections
Whenever people read your offer, there will be friction. They’ll have some conscious and sub-conscious objections to what you’re saying and hesitations about taking the offer.
While during in-person sales we can uncover those hesitations with questions and address the concerns, online that’s kind of difficult. The solution is to prevent those objects by addressing all the possible issues in your sales copy right away.
Step one – create a list of all the possible hesitations and objections your potential customers might have. Step two, add info to your sales copy to eliminate or alleviate those concerns. The list can contains things like
You don’t understand my problem (explain the problems your product solves)
Why should I believe you? (show off your credentials, experience, awards etc)
What if it doesn’t work on me? (have testimonials of all kinds of users that have benefited from your product)
It’s not worth the money, there are cheaper alternatives out there (explain your price, compare with the competition, prove the value your product offers)
… and so on. It’s important to come up with as long list as you can. Seek external input, do user testing and ask your customers to figure out what all they might be concerned about.
6. Increase trust
Let’s say you walk down the street, and some random dude comes up to you. “Hey, wanna buy an iPad2? Just $50. It’s brand new.” Would you buy it?
You know the product is good. You know it’s a really good deal. But you probably wouldn’t still buy it. Why? Because you don’t trust him.
Sales guru Zig Ziglar once said that there are only 4 reasons why people won’t buy from you:
not in a hurry,
We can’t do much about the first 3 reasons, but we can build trust. Add trust elements to your website and see your conversions increase.
7. Make it easy to buy from you
Your goal has to be to make doing business with you as easy as possible. Your users should not try to figure out how to buy from you or where to click. It has to be intuitive and self-evident. As few clicks as possible.
8. Remove distraction
This is big. You want people to focus on a single action and not be distracted from it.
Are there items on the page that could divert the visitor away the from the goal?
The more visual inputs and action options your visitors has to process, the less likely they are to make a conversion decision. Minimizing distractions like unnecessary product options, links and extraneous information will increase the conversion rate.
On your landing pages and product pages, remove or minimize everything that is not relevant to users taking action.
Remove or shrink the menu.
Get rid of sidebars and big headers.
Take off irrelevant (stock) images.
Ask yourself is there anything else that you could take off page, something that is NOT contributing to the conversion?