Conversion Rate Optimization Tips from the Experts

You’re frantically researching conversion rate optimization. Your new web page is finally live and your prospects are visiting but that’s about all they’re doing. They’re not filling out that form, they’re not downloading, they’re not signing up. Only a measly one out of every 100 are claiming your offer.

Is this normal? You navigate to a search engine and begin punching in a question:

What is a good conversion rate?

Everyone’s always after the answer. To find it, usually they go through a scenario like the one above. They look for industry benchmarks and they sift through case studies to try and get the inside scoop on their competitors.

But in the end, what ends up happening is they forget one of the cardinal rules of marketing: Your business is unlike anyone else’s business, no matter how similar the others may seem.

While they’re chasing their competitors’ conversion rates, their business gets left in the rear-view and they actually forget that the only good conversion rate is one that’s higher than their current one.

So the short answer to the question? A good conversion rate is one that’s higher than you have now. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing because what they’re doing has no impact on you. Ask yourself: If I know my competitors’ conversion rates, how will it change my strategy? (It won’t.)

To boost your conversion rate, the method is always the same: collect data, test, collect more data, adjust. That method is known in marketing as CRO.

What is CRO?

CRO stands for “conversion rate optimization,” which refers to the process of improving the rate at which visitors convert — sign up, download, buy, etc. — on a particular web page. If 10 out of every 100 visitors to an ebook landing page download the ebook, then the conversion rate of that page is 10%. Conversion rate optimization focuses on getting 15 or 20 visitors out of every 100 to download that ebook through design alterations made with insights from testing, using a framework that at its most basic level, looks like this:

  • Collect data: As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Before you start adjusting anything on a web page, you should have a reason to do so. This is when you find the gaps in your marketing funnel with tools like heat maps, customer interviews, etc…
  • Hypothesize: This stage is where you brainstorm ways to fill the gaps. If people aren’t completing your signup form, that might be because it’s too long or confusing. So, you and your team outline ways to make it more concise. It’s also important to define a metric for success here. What will a successful test look like? Will it be more signups? Will it be less signups and more revenue? The ultimate goal is always to boost the bottom line, so you should know which metric you need to improve to to do that.
  • Calculate your sample size and calibrate your tools: To accurately gather insights from your test, you need to ensure you reach something called “statistical significance,” otherwise you risk making business decisions based on inaccurate information. So beforehand, it’s necessary to determine how many visitors you’ll need to generate to each variation of your page during the test. It’s also necessary to make sure your tools are running the way they should, and some marketers accomplish that with the help of an A/A test.
  • Create variations and run your test: This is when, based on your hypothesis which might be “No one is filling out our form, so we hypothesize that making it shorter will make people more likely to complete it,” you create a variation of your web page and start driving traffic to it along with your original (you might have more than one variation if you’re running a multivariate test).
  • Monitor closely for confounding variables: There are elements that you won’t be able to control which can threaten the validity of your test (completely poison the results) like conflicting campaigns or the time of the day/year, and even psychological factors. So you’ll need to watch for those carefully throughout.
  • Analyze and adjust: After you’ve run your test for several business cycles, you look over the results. Did you improve the metrics you thought you would? If not, why?

After you’ve made your way through the whole process, it’s back to the drawing board. What else can you fix? Look at all the stages of your marketing funnel. Where are you losing the most revenue? It may happen in the consideration stage or the purchase stage or the loyalty stage, but no matter where it’s happening in the funnel, it’s usually happening on landing pages.

What is landing page optimization?

A landing page is a standalone web page, disconnected from your website’s navigation, created for the purpose of getting web visitors to take action. Landing page optimization is a form of conversion rate optimization that focuses on the improvement of a landing page specifically.

The general term “conversion rate optimization” can focus on the improvement of the conversion rate on any web page, like clicks on the “Learn More” button on this Birst homepage, for example:
conversion rate optimization tips - Birst
On the other hand, landing page optimization focuses specifically on improving the conversion rate of a landing page, like this Birst landing page, for example: On the other hand, landing page optimization focuses specifically on improving the conversion rate of a landing page, like this Birst landing page:
conversion rate optimization tips Birst

To improve the conversion rate of key landing pages, conversion rate optimizers use a mix of best practices and testing. Test results vary from business to business, but what follows are some that have been proven time and again, and at this point have become best practices.

Conversion rate optimization tips from CRO experts

The experts have tested and spoken. Here are five things you can try to do to boost your landing page conversion rate:

Remove navigation

Navigation serves an obvious purpose on your website (to help people discover more about you throughout the buyer’s journey) but not on your landing page. Here’s why: Landing pages are focused pages created for one purpose, and that’s to get your visitor to take action.

You don’t want them distracted by the link to your “contact” page or “about us” page or any other. All you want is for them to read or watch your message and download or buy or sign up (whatever the goal of your page is).

One particularly well-known test from HubSpot shows that without a navigation menu, landing pages can convert up to 28% better. Here’s the page before the navigation was removed:
conversion rate optimization tips hubspot-f

And here’s what happened to conversion rates after it was removed:
conversion rate optimization tips landing page data

Keep your prospects focused by allowing them the opportunity to leave your page only by clicking your CTA button or the “X” in the upper corner of the screen.

Include engaging visuals

If you stop and think about how you make it through the day, you’ll realize that you do so without the help of written words for the most part. And that’s what makes visuals more compelling than words on landing pages — they are easier for us to understand because we’re more accustomed to them.

93% of marketers use video in their marketing, and just about every designer features some kind of visual on their landing page, whether it’s an infographic or a hero shot, to help visitors better comprehend their message to and optimize ad spend.

When Adam Kalil, founder of Brothers Leather Supply Company, ran a heat map analysis on his product landing pages, he found that images were the most compelling element to users:
Conversion Rate Heat Map
In Adam’s words, here’s why:

“Heat maps have reinforced our need for great images on all of our product pages. We used to slave away over the right copy — but now we spend time getting images just right. Each image shows a different use or angle for our bags… Future customers want to know how the bag looks with a laptop inside when it’s full when someone is wearing it.”
Adam Kalil, Brothers Leather Supply Company.

Help your visitors, like Adam does, to better understand your product or service by telling them and showing them.

Minimize your form

Nearly every landing page features a form. And where there’s a form, there’s friction (something that deters a visitor from converting), because people are reluctant to submit too much personal information. They value their privacy.

So, the shorter the form, the more likely it is to be filled out by a visitor. Squeeze pages capture only email address at the beginning of the buyer’s journey to fill the top of a business’s funnel. Thy conversion rate of squeeze pages is generally much higher than the ones lower in the funnel, like ebook landing pages or webinar landing pages that usually request more information.

Data from 400,000 forms shows that after three fields, conversion rate starts to drop:
conversion rate optimization tips hubspot-form-field
Does that mean all your forms should be three fields?

Not at all. It means that you should only ask for what you need.

Your marketing and sales teams should be in agreement on the definition of a qualified lead at each stage of the marketing funnel. And every form at every stage should only aim to qualify the lead. If you only need email at the top of the funnel, don’t ask for business size. If you need to know business size to qualify a prospect, ask for it on a landing page deeper in your funnel.

Prove your offer is valuable with social proof

One of the most powerful ways to prove that your offer is valuable is by showing your visitors that other people have found it valuable. Who are your happiest customers? What has your product or service done to improve their lives?

Testimonials and case studies can prove that your marketing agency has produced sky-high ROI for other businesses or that your product has relieved back pain, or fulfilled whatever its purpose is.

Here’s a great example of how to do that from analytics provider, Grow:
conversion rate optimization tips grow landing page

In your testimonials and short case studies, try to include as much detail as possible. Social proof from “Nate Quigley, CEO of Chatbooks,” is much more believable than social proof from “Nate Q.”

Write a compelling call-to-action

You’re used to seeing “download” and “subscribe” and “submit” on call-to-action buttons, but they’re boring. They’re vanilla ice cream and there are plenty of better flavors that your prospects would prefer.

Instead of dull CTAs, try using something that will get your visitors excited to claim the offer. Here’s a great example from Empire Flippers:
conversion rate optimization tips empire-fl
The original button emphasizes what the visitors have to do to claim the offer and the challenger button emphasizes what the visitor gets by clicking. The optimizers asked “what does the prospect get by joining us?” and the answer was “make money flipping websites.” If your button is boring, ask “how does the prospect benefit from clicking (submit/download/subscribe)?” Then, test your button with that new benefit to see if it performs better.

When to seek out conversion optimization services

Conversion optimization is powerful but not easy. The steps outlined earlier take much practice to learn. If anything on your page — your CTA button, form, social proof — needs testing, then it’s best left tested by an experienced conversion optimizer. Otherwise, you risk making poor business decisions that can hurt your bottom line in the long run.

If you have an experienced optimizer on your staff, then you’re ready to start testing. If not, find out what a conversion optimization agency like AgencyPPC can do for your conversion rates.