When it comes to websites, too many businesses adopt the Field Of Dreams strategy – “if you build it, they will come.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it’s actually increasingly hard to get people to visit websites and focus on the fact that a business doesn’t profit from visits, it profits from sales, or conversions. That means you don’t just need people to come to your website, you need people to buy or sign up there. It doesn’t matter if you’ve created a beautiful, innovative website – it doesn’t guarantee a good user experience or lead to a high website conversion rate.
Entrepreneur Magazine puts it more bluntly: “Getting traffic to your website is great, but if that traffic doesn’t convert, it’s almost useless.” 2% is said to be the average eCommerce conversion rate, but many businesses are only hitting the 0.2% mark – and even that 2% average is dropping. To make life even more challenging, the ecommerce landscape is known to rapidly change, and the best tools and techniques for increasing conversions can go out of date quickly. Nonetheless, some core principles will not go out of date any time soon – here are ten of the best.
- GRAB ATTENTION! FAST!!!
Seven years ago, Time Magazine claimed that a web page had just 15 seconds to grab attention before a reader moved on. Unfortunately, that tiny sliver of opportunity may have shrunk in the years since, as social media has shrunk attention spans even further. That’s why you need to grab attention from the start on your landing pages, which means creating a headline that pounces on the reader. A good headline explains exactly what you are offering and makes your visitor stay on the page long enough for you to convert them. Brainstorm five or more headline ideas for every landing page, and then test them in the real world before deciding on the one with the most impact. If you’re struggling to write compelling copy, enlist the help of a specialist conversion copywriter such as one of our partners Anna or Aja.
- MAKE IT EASY.
If you want people to convert, you need to make it as effortless as possible. As Hubspot points out, “one reason that users don’t convert is that there’s friction in the process.” Long forms are often the culprit when it comes to low conversions, and some studies have suggested that just one extra field can reduce conversions by 11%. If your form features seven fields… well, you can do the Maths.
- LEARN THE ART OF ASKING
If you want a potential customer to do something – buy, subscribe, donate, sign up – you need to ask. A clear, engaging and persuasive Call To Action (CTA) can be rocket fuel for conversions. Make sure your CTA (and it should ideally be one, singular) is always visible and accessible to visitors, no matter where they are on a page, so that the moment they are persuaded they can convert (see tip 1 again).
- USE SOCIAL PROOF.
Trust is probably the most important currency for conversion, but one of the most difficult to accumulate. Social proof – independent reviews or testimonials by former customers or clients – is one of the smartest and quickest ways of acquiring trust from potential new customers. Unfortunately, the more brands discover the power of testimonials, the more customers grow skeptical. Disarm them by providing as much detail – name, location and date of purchase, for example – as you can. Including minor constructive criticisms alongside hyperbole is another excellent way of establishing credibility. WikiJob reports that testimonials increased their conversions by 34%.
- CLEAR AWAY THE CLUTTER.
If you’re designing a landing strip for airplanes, you probably want to avoid random flashing lights, huge potholes and cows wandering freely around the tarmac. Confusion and distraction are usually not helpful to pilots. The same is true if you’re designing a landing page. Keep it clear, concise, and user-friendly. If your text and pictures aren’t driving people towards conversion, get rid of them, no matter how much you like the way they look or sound. The last thing you want to do is distract your potential customer just as they are hovering on the edge of conversion.
- BE AN HONEST BROKER
We’ve all experienced it – being lured in by a social media post or search result which promised to deliver something we wanted, then clicking through to find out that what’s on the other side is entirely different from what we expected. It’s the guiding principle of clickbait headlines and those badly Photoshopped YouTube thumbnails promising a video of a battle between a shark and a crocodile. But, just as misleading clickbait articles rarely result in a reader actually finishing an article, a misleading offer rarely results in a conversion. If you want your visitors to convert, make sure that your promotional content – from ads to SEO – is honest and clear, and always in alignment.
- DRESS FOR SUCCESS
If you want your landing page to convert, you need it to look good. And if you think that’s obvious, you definitely haven’t spent as much time as we have checking out mediocre Google Ads. A badly designed and sloppy landing page instantly undermines trust in your products or services. And tempting though it may be to turn to designed templates to keep up appearances, remember that (as Entrepreneur Magazine points out) “consumers come in contact with these templates all the time and they all begin to look the same”. In this world of Upwork and Fiver, accessing design support doesn’t need to cost a fortune and can quickly reap rewards.
Simple as these steps are, following them can require discipline, single-mindedness, and a lot of trial and error. If there was a foolproof formula, then average conversion rates would be a lot higher than 2%. But, if you do follow these steps consistently, your conversion rates will rise, and lift your profits with them.