How-To Guide for Improving Website Conversion Rates

Every section of your website’s real estate is important. The pieces work together to encourage visitors to complete the goals you deem important. These goals, or conversions, could be many things.

For a content site, your goal may involve a user contacting you, or watching a video of your product. For an e-commerce site, the goal is often a sale, but it could also be a site registration or an email signup. But what pieces of content will perform best to trigger higher website conversion rates?

A conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a desired action. This is how success is measured. Sometimes small changes can result in huge gains, so you should always be taking measures to improve your conversion rates.

In this post I share some ideas for you to test on your website to help move the needle and leave you excited and inspired.

Website Conversion Rates: Begin by Defining Page Goals

Clearly defining goals for your various pages is important. You can certainly have more than one objective for your website, but when you develop the individual pages, make sure each page has a single, distinctive goal.

Using an e-commerce site as a master example, the goal of a homepage should be to engage consumers to click on a promoted product. The goal of the product detail page should be to encourage consumers to add the product to their carts, while the goal of the contact form should be for users to find the information they need at the top and then to scroll through those items left. Don’t forget to include a “complete the form” so you can contact them.

Once you’ve established the goal for the page, what should you start changing first on your website in production? Absolutely nothing—not without first testing these new ideas with a sample of your audience.

Test, Test, Test

Don’t make major changes to your site based on what you think will work and what won’t; you might end up discovering that your assumptions were completely wrong to begin with. You need to know in advance how visitors will react to the changes to a website to minimize the negative impact that may occur if your hypothesis is wrong, so create the version(s) of the way you want your page to appear and test it against your current page.

If you don’t have the budget or the developmental staff to construct several versions of your pages for assessment, I recommend using a program like Optimizely for testing. This easy-to-use, code-free tool lets you test multiple versions of your site without needing a developer. Instead, Optimizely lets you try out your ideas with dynamic versions of your page you create within their application.

Start Testing by Going Big

There are two types of tests you can run: an A/B or a multivariate test. With an A/B test, you split your traffic evenly and serve at least two completely different variations of a page (your original page acts as one of the testing options). Once you determine the best approach for the design and layout of the page, you can then move to multivariate testing; that’s when you identify a few small, key areas to test, like if changing your “add to cart” button from blue to orange spikes cart creation.

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Make sure you don’t test too many elements at one time, or you won’t be able to identify the source that is driving the change in your analysis.

Recommendations for A/B Testing

Page Layout

Test big changes here. Try reducing the size of the hero image or updating the two-column view to a single-column, longer-page view to see which approach works better.

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Article Length

Test various content lengths to find one most appropriate, since some subject material and products may not need extensive copy to improve audience performance.

Number of Visuals

Regardless if the banner images on your page promote your own products or those of other companies, try removing some of the banners to reduce the number of elements that may distract your audience from the goal of your page.

Offers

To one audience, an offer for $10 off a purchase may resonate more than 20% off. Test various offers or ways to display them on the page to see if it betters engages your audience.

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Visual Content Consistency

If you’re creating a bright and bold display or retargeting image outside of your site to drive traffic, but you’re not seeing the results you want, try a new version of the page that uses the same imagery as your ad. This will create consistency to help your audience feel like what they selected is what they’re getting on the page you take them to.

Content Utilization

If seeing is believing, try replacing your hero image with a strong video to test for impact. If you’re selling a more expensive item, try using more images within a gallery to provide your potential consumers with additional opportunities to view the products you offer. Would a video help instill confidence for site visitors to purchase your products?

Trust Factor

If you run an e-commerce site, try displaying security icons or messaging to see if your dropout rate decreases. Similarly, add some product reviews to see if peer responses help stimulate more sales.

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More Options

On a product detail page, try illustrating a row of similar products below the product information to evaluate visitor engagement. If you see results by displaying these additional options, you can then drill down to a multivariate test with the title of this section. For example, see if you can acquire any extra lift in engagement when testing phrases such as “Recommendations,” “You may also like” and “Popular products.”

Number of Form Fields

If you want more visitors to contact you via a contact form, consider reducing the number of fillable fields to make it seem like an easier process. When you get in touch with them later, you can collect additional information at that time.

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Recommendations for Multivariate Testing

Navigation

Test the placement of elements, and if highlighting or changing the color of certain words, increase the click rates.

Headline or Page Title

Try changing the headline to see if it evokes a different response from viewers. For example, should a travel agency get creative with titles like “London Calling” or stick to more direct titles like “London Hotel Offers?”

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Text Utilization

If your product descriptions are whimsical, try focusing on the facts to see if it helps consumers better understand what you’re selling. It may be that the current, “You’ll love this sweater for an evening stroll…” doesn’t perform as well as something like “This machine washable, 100% cotton sweater is…”

Calls to Action

Contrast is key. Make sure your visitors can easily spot your call to action. Test a big, bold button against a softer color. If you aren’t using a button at all, try changing your text link to a button. Also consider different versions of the text, such as the soft “get started” in contrast to a more aggressive “buy now.”

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Opt-in Boxes

If your goal is to acquire more email addresses for your monthly newsletter, try bringing your opt-in box above the fold if it’s presently buried at the bottom of your page. If your opt-in box for email signups is in the global footer, try bringing it into the global header of all your pages to see if being positioned there makes any difference for your desktop and tablet viewers.

Create a sense of urgency

If your sale ends in a few days, display the time left. Similarly, if you have only four more handmade necklaces for sale, try displaying stock numbers on your product pages to bolster engagement.

There’s no clear road map to success for a website, so we must strive to make improvements wherever we can. A well-performing website will drive inbound traffic, engage that traffic and encourage them to convert. While most things we test don’t exponentially improve rates, many small positive updates over time can yield strong results—and that’s the name of the game!

Happy testing, and remember, we’re here if you need any help!

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