Conversion rate optimization is one of the most effective ways to grow profits for a web business, whether it’s an SMB or an enterprise-level site.
But where do you start? What should you test? And what pitfalls should you watch out for? Here are 20 conversion optimization tips on how to get started.
1. Use the Right Tool for Your Business
Conversion optimization tools have distinct methodologies for testing, vastly different performance capabilities, varying levels of vendor support and service level agreements, different cost structures (from free to freemium to costly), distinct reporting capabilities and significantly varied resourcing needs.
2. Optimize Acquisition Channels First
This is particularly useful if you need to realize a quick win to show the value of conversion optimization because it is easy to show a reduction in overall cost per acquisition. Start with paid search and display advertising landing pages first, delve deeper with top referred pages but be careful with organic search entry pages due to varying traffic volume and search engine algorithm changes.
3. Scrutinize Lift Versus Shift
Optimization efforts usually count success in lift, but never consider the possibility of shift. Lift can be defined as an incremental and sustained increase in positive business growth. Optimizations with true lift do not disrupt existing conversion events. If your optimization creates localized lift and destabilizes conversion events on other areas of your site, you’re really seeing a shift.
4. Feel the Pain
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and brainstorm their goals on your site. How easily could you perform the same tasks you’re asking your customers to complete? Do you set realistic expectations on how quickly someone can complete these tasks?
5. Analyze the Competition
Think you’re smarter than your competition? Try testing their ideas with your audience to find out what they might be doing better. Remember that regardless of how similar you site, product offerings, or services might be, no two sites will perform exactly the same.
6. Engage Test Groups
Try user research groups to test your website. There are free tools online such as fivesectiontest.com and usabilla.com as well as paid online focus groups such as usertesting.com and even session replay software such as Clicktale and Tealeaf. Sometimes user testing is the easiest way to get in your visitors’ head and find prospective customer pain points.
7. Recommend Products and Services
Industry giants like Apple, Dell, Amazon, and GoDaddy leverage the art of the upsell and leverage analytics to increase conversion volume and value per conversion.
8. Improve Self-Help
Areas on a website dedicated to helping people are most often frequented by loyal customers that prefer to solve their own problems. Help them save you money and phone calls and consider testing your self-help content by offering video tutorials, FAQs, comprehensive download archives, public service messaging and ensure you’re responding to social media channels.
9. Obsess Over Search Like Google Engineers
Search functionality on your website is often a last-ditch attempt that prospects and clients use to find what they want. It’s also probably the last capability you’ll ever consider to optimize. Start optimizing for search queries with no results and continue to optimize by matching synonyms and common misspelling with more relevant content.
10. Be Careful With Promotions
Incentives and urgency can have a strong effect on conversion rate but undesirable effect on lifetime value, use with caution. Online-savvy prospects are pre-conditioned to give a little to get a lot and are less likely to repeat purchase without further, unprofitable promotion.
11. Live Up to The Hype
Testimonials and professional affiliations can do wonders for conversion and consumer trust, if you can deliver. Get written approval for logo usage and recommendations and you’ve done your due diligence to avoid legal issues.
12. Be Trustworthy
13. Content is King
Clear, concise content is still king, be cautious and exhaustively test reduction in content volume.
14. Integrate Web Analytics Capabilities
Optimization software can be very similar to web analytics but not exactly the same. In many cases, web analytics software knows more about user behavior, so leverage it!
15. Optimization Helps SEO
In a post-Panda world, Google revealed websites with better user experience (those that are optimized) perform better in the SERPs. Optimizations go hand-in-hand with SEO.
16. Leverage CRM Data
Optimizations take on new meaning (and better conversion) when you can target individuals based on CRM data. Consider augmenting optimizations based on aggregate customer groups such as lifetime value, customer tenure and likelihood to recommend.
17. Apply Monetary Value to Optimizations
Percentages are misleading. Lift and confidence is confusing. Equating an optimization to dollar value is crucial for scale because it can provide additional time for analysis and test execution, more money for better tools and additional human resources.
18. Make Optimization a Routine
Optimization isn’t a flavor of the month; it takes work and persistence to achieve long-term success. Plan ahead based on business goals and schedule optimizations based on priority and opportunity (or good timing). Planning also enables other stakeholders and team members to secure their own resources to make it happen.
19. Build a Culture of Optimization
Embed optimization into product, design or client lifecycles. Building a culture of optimization gives everyone a voice and means you’re never short of ideas for testing. Ensure that optimization software is integrated into all of your sites and platforms early in development so that you aren’t limited by technology penetration or lack thereof.
20. Take Everyone Along for the Ride
Unified organizational success is only truly realized when online and offline complement each other. Share findings from optimizations with front-line personnel and promote internal engagement to leverage offline experience in future optimizations. Conversion optimization should provide enough improvement to attribute value to all channels or organizational silos.
Have a favorite tip from above or seen it work in practice? Share it with us below.
Upcoming Webinar: PPC Pause and Reflections for 2013
Thursday, December 12 - 2013 was a major turning point in search advertising. With Google's Enhanced Campaigns and Bing's innovative Smart Search capabilities in Windows 8.1, now is a great time to pause, reflect, and plan for the new year. Webinar attendance is free. Sign up today!