12 Actionable Advices To Improve Your Website Conversion Rate

Updated: Dec 03, 2013 / Article by: Jerry Low

The first great myth of websites is if you build it, they will come. You put up your website and you waited. Eventually, you got past the birds chirping and figured out a strategy to get visitors to your site. These might include building a list, SEO, or using paid traffic through PPC.  But once they arrived, did they do what you expected? More to the point, did they buy?

Overcoming this second hurdle of improving your conversion rates can feel like one of the hardest to deal with when you are launching a web business. But I have some good news: encouraging people to convert may feel like a mystery now. But great thinkers across a range of disciplines from psychology to marketing to web design have been decoding what makes people take action.

About Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is how many of these guys on the left (the visitors) turn into those guys on the right (visitors who place an order or subscribe to your newsletter, or… etc) expressed in a percentile number.

What Rates Should I Shoot For?

An important question is whether or not the industry has a standard conversion rate. The answers are all over the place.  But according to a study released by Forrester Research, the average conversion rates for online shopping tend to be about 2.9%. It’s important to look at historical trends of conversion data on your own site, as well as what you can find in your specific industry.  It’s also helpful to evaluate what kind of conversion you’re looking for: you can expect a higher percentage of people to convert and sign up for our list, for example, than the percentage you can expect to buy something.

The following guide pulls on the best insights from across domains to help you increase your conversions and increase your profits today.  I’ve broken the following tips into sections based on the area of expertise they pull from. Depending on what you’re interested in, we’ll help point you in the right direction.

Copywriting: The Power of Words to Drive Conversion

Tip #1 – Improve your hook

You can’t get them to convert if you can’t capture their attention. Take a look at your headlines and your opening paragraphs. How compelling are they? Do they grab a reader’s attention? Do they invite the reader to keep reading? If the answer to any of these is no, take a close look at your product and see if it’s possible to find an embedded story, irresistible benefit, or killer headline you can lead with.

Tip #2 – Articulate your USP

If a customer reads your website, is it clear why your widget is different/better than the competition’s widget? It’s important that you be able to clearly and unambiguously state your differentiating factors and let that information shine through. Any potential customer should be easily able to share your USP with a friend: “You have to buy this company’s product because they are cheaper, better, and faster.”

Tip #3 – Feature your contact information

If your call to action asks your prospect to call, is your phone number in big letters across the top of the page (see example below)? If you need a viewer to click a button to order, is the button big, bold, in bright colors, and impossible to miss? Whatever step the potential customer needs to take in order to buy should be easy and obvious. Consider adding a button that says “Buy Now!” or “Click Here!”.

Example: Koozai.com

Koozai displays its call to action and contact number as big as the company logo.

Tip #4 – Call to action

We’re going to talk more about calls to action in just a bit. But just to confirm, your copy DOES feature a call to action, right?  You’d be surprised how many sites don’t, or how many business people think that a call to action is “implied.” Don’t leave what you need people to do to their imagination. Tell them very clearly, tell them often, and make it easy for them to execute.

Psychology: The Best Salesmanship Tricks to Persuade

Tip #5 – Simplify

It’s been shown definitively that if you give a browser too many options, links, or other potential distractions that it diffuses their focus and makes them less likely to actually convert and take the most critical action. You’ve seen the long, single page sales letters that don’t have any off page links. They are so common because they are effective. Can you remove some of the clutter on your website to help drive a viewer toward a singular focus?

Tip #6 – Social Proof

Only the most adventurous spirits want to lead the way and be the early adopters. Instead, when we make a purchase we want to know we’re in good company, joining an elite group of people getting results.  Do you have impressive numbers that you can share? How many people visit your site each month, follow you on Twitter or receive your newsletter?  Do you have great case studies and testimonials that you can share? You get bonus points if you can use real names and photographs, to lend authenticity.

Display Your Social Media Reach

Never be too shy to show off some numbers. See how Net Tuts+ displays its social media followers on the first fold.

Tip #7 – Emphasize loss over gain

People are more afraid to lose what they already have than to not achieve something they see as only a dream. It’s the classic “I’d rather definitely hang onto my five dollars than potentially make a not guaranteed ten dollars” scenario.  The key is to show them what they stand to lose, as well as what they stand to gain, by purchasing your product.  If you can manage to do both, you’re definitely on the right track.

Tip #8 – Cultivate an air of mystery

If you can create a sense of exclusivity and mystery around your products, this helps raise people’s interest. Focus in on aspects of your story, your trade secrets, or the elite group customers will be joining, the knowledge that they will have access to, the networks that will open up. All of these are compelling motivators.

Tip #9 – Play with perceptions of value

When you sell a product for $30, it’s hard for me to evaluate whether that’s a good deal.  But if I find out that this is a one-time deal, and you usually charge $99, suddenly I feel like I’m getting a better deal.  If that purchase comes with $100 in bonuses, I also feel like I’ve just won the lottery.  This critical trick of showing me that your price is great relative to some other data points can control how I perceive your price.

Design: Using Layout, Form, and Artistry to Drive Action

Plan and be flexible

Find areas of design frustration: When you crafted your website, I bet you went for the sexiest, sleekest, most beautiful design you could afford. The question is: does your design work for your customers? Use a tool like Crazy Egg (www.crazyegg.com) to track the movements of your visitors. Once you see where the “hot spots” of activities are, you can use that information to create a focus on your core conversion.

Tip #10 – Survey your customers

This one sounds so easy. So why is it that so few of us do it?  Reach out to your customers and find out what they really need. It could be that a different set of products would increase your conversions, or presented differently.

Do not assume. A/B test everything. If you need ideas on how to start, here are 20 conversion case studies for your reference.

Tip #11 – Remarket

Remarketing is a cool technique that feels a little bit Big Brother, but can make a huge difference in both your sales and your understanding of your customers’ behavior. Use remarketing to reach out to people that abandoned at some point in the process, and find out why. For example, did someone add a product to their cart but not finish the check-out.  Find out why.  Did they find a better deal elsewhere? Did you not take their preferred method of payment? Was your check-out process too complicated? Any of these can be easily remedied once you know what the problem is.

Tip #12 – Add video

Video appears in 70% of the top 100% of Google results, and visitors are reportedly 64 – 85% more likely to purchase after watching a product video.  A simple solution is to add a product information or sales video to your page. It doesn’t have to be high production value; you talking to your camera works just as well!

Whether you’re pulling from copywriting, psychology, or design, there are techniques that can dramatically improve your conversions.

About Jerry Low

Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.