When I google ‘conversion funnel’ I see results which are either too basic (e.g. what is a conversion funnel?) or way too detailed (e.g. advanced segment reporting in google’s analytics goal flow – say what?)
I thought it might be useful to curate the research and provide a guide with 4 T’s – Tips, Tactics, Techniques and Tools in one place. So, after hours of hard labor, here are 121 Tips and 130+ Tactics, Techniques an Tools across 29 categories. I am sure there are more – so, please do mention them in the comments at the end.
This guide is meant for Small Businesses (SMBs). I haven’t really considered enterprise grade applications in this research. Also, I can’t claim that I have used all the tools mentioned in the article so make sure you evaluate them yourself before spending any money.
If you are still reading this, I presume you have a basic understanding of conversion funnels and have also used some of the below T’s. So then, since we all agree conversion funnels are important, I won’t go into the details of AIDA or repeat the marketing jargon of activate, acquire, viral loop etc. Although, I must say I love the acronyms ToFu, MoFu and BoFu. They sound like character names out of a Disney movie.
Don’t you think so?
I have excluded traffic-generation and website-discovery related topics in this post. The philosophy behind this conversion funnel article is – ‘Once the customer has reached my website, how do I convert him?’
Based on quick informal feedback, I ranked each of the items as High, Medium or Low according to their likely impact to your conversion rates.
Before we start – if you prefer to read this article off-line, you can always get the FREE pdf here:
So here goes, in alphabetical order of the categories:
Analytics for Conversions
The first thing to do is to quantify your conversion metrics. Go with Google analytics to start with – it’s easy to implement, easy to understand and popular among SMBs. It makes it pretty easy for you to define a business goal based on a visitor’s behavior on the website.
You can choose from a template or customize your own goal. You can define it based on a particular destination (URL), duration (time spent on website), event (play a video or click a button) or finally page/ session. It’ll take just a few minutes as you can guess from the screenshot here:
Further reading: Setting up goals.
2. Event Tracking
Just so that you’re prepared – when I set-up event tracking for this blog – I needed some help from the IT team. Here’s one event tracking tool which I discovered while writing this piece – maybe it will make event tracking easier for you. Here are some types of events which you may want to track:
- Affiliate Link
- Article Rating
- Blog Comment
- Contact Form
- File Download
- General Event
- Live Chat
- Newsletter Signup
- Product Rating
- RSS Subscription
- User Registration
It’s always helpful to view your conversion funnels with a visual. Especially in the beginning. Once you get the hang of the user flows you will be able to manage without the charting and funnel views.
One non-trivial problem with conversion tracking is to attribute the source of the traffic and sales: (search, social, email, direct visits, ads, affiliates or other sources). Very often it is a combination of the sources which eventually leads to any sale.
e.g. A visitor might find the website through search but eventually convert after reading a follow up email or a social media post. Or, the visitor might have been pulled in via an affiliate but converted after seeing a re-marketing display ad with a special offer.
The important thing is to not get lost in the complexity. You can assume the ‘last interaction’ model as good enough as an indicative trend and go from there.
For analytics as a whole:
5. Write Compelling Headlines
Headlines make all the difference. Even one word can change conversion rates by 40%. Here are some things you can do to maximize the headline impact.
Numbers really help. Even more so in the beginning of the headline. For example, “18 People Reveal What Making Friends In College Is Really Like” are just the kind of headlines which have made sites like Buzzfeed and Distractify hugely successful.
Not too short and not too long. Try 7-8 words for the best results for your headlines. People scan headlines so make the first two words the most impactful.
Popular tools: King Sumo,
6. Break it Up: Sub-Headlines
It turns out the the best headlines are broken in two parts: a headline and a sub-headline.
Strangely, I couldn’t find any tool which does an analysis on the effectiveness of a sub-headline
7. Create an Urgency
The difference between normal content and conversion focused content is the urgency towards the sale. It’s like the difference between a vitamin pill and a painkiller.
Make your content build the urgency of a painkiller – otherwise the audience will just consider you as another ‘good-to-have’ rather than a ‘must-have’.
You can leverage FOMO – Communicate a scarcity for what you are offering. This could be based on a deadline or social pressure. The most common way ecommerce companies create the feeling of scarcity is through the stock availability mentioned on the product page.
8. Explain the Benefits
There are only two base human emotions – greed and fear. Nobody buys your product for charity. So, unless the benefits are crystal clear, you are limiting your conversions.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer when you are writing your pitch. Does the tone and message of your content resonate with that target? Does it make them look sexy? Does it make them feel less pain? Does it make them feel unique and special?
Hammer home the benefits.
9. Use the right keywords
I’m not talking about just SEO keywords. I’m talking about using the words and phrases used by your customers. What are your customers searching for? What is the vocabulary they use? What is the lexicon?
for e.g. among home loan, house loan and mortgage loan, which is the most searched?
10. Don’t skip the fine-print
There are many kinds of customers. Some are convinced easily – but not everyone. Spend time on the product description, policy documents, contact information etc.
Did you hear about that guy Doug Heckman who won $1000 just cause he actually read through a company’s entire EULA.
11. No Grammar and Spelling mistakes
Yes, your 5th grade English teacher did have a point. Website copy with grammar and spelling mistakes loses credibility very quickly. Your content management system (wordpress, joomla, drupal etc.) should provide you with a spell check function within the WYSIWYG editor. Try out these 25 homepage design ideas. Otherwise, here’s a free trial account at checkdog.
Companies that blog get a massive increase in traffic and leads. Just about everyone says so. I’ll let this infographic do the talking:
Free tools for small business blogging: wordpress, medium, tumblr
13. Guest Blogs
Get an authoritative or celebrity figure to add masala to your blog and it will add to your brand recall. If the person is a domain expert it may help in gaining domain authority backlinks from his/ her followers.
14. Help section/ FAQ
Remember the time when you didn’t raise your hand in class even though you didn’t understand the teacher. Well, that happens all the time with your website visitors. You can’t explain everything to all visitors all of the time. Build a good help section, use tooltips, provide FAQs to help people get extra details whenever they need it.
I personally like these accordion style FAQs.
15. Tutorials/ Product Tours
1 minute videos are what people expect to see. You could get those cool 2D animated videos
Fiverr has a large number of people who could make short and sweet explainer videos for you.
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): Experiments and Testing
16. A/B Testing
A/ B or split testing is a controlled comparison exercise to determine the better performing of two options of a webpage or an app.
You set up an experiment to split your audience to experience two variations (A and B) and measure which one performs better.
You can learn how to do A/B tests from Google analytics for free.
17. Multivariate testing
Multivariate testing aims to determine which combination of variables performs the best. It is complex, requires a lot of effort and has the potential for delivering little or negative results.
For a small business – you can ignore this for now.
18. Multi-page testing
Any online sale is going to take a combination of pages strung together as the conversion funnel.
An example of the funnel from the ecommerce world:
You need to consider the funnel as a whole to convert those visitors. You may have an awesome landing page but an error-prone checkout process. Multi page testing helps you identify areas for optimization.
19. Once you’ve sold, sell ’em more!
The book Marketing Metrics says, “The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5%-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.” More such interesting snippets on cross-selling, upselling and product bundling at crazyegg here.
eCommerce conversion funnel
20. Homepage: Popular products on top
Shopkeepers have always known about the importance of window dressing. Shopping malls and supermarkets have made a science of how to place their categories. Keep your popular stuff above the fold to get more people to enter your store.
21. Products page: High quality photography
Low resolution images, pixelated images, pictures taken from afar, pictures taken with inadequate lighting, pictures with limited views of the product are all reasons for customers to walk away.
Stretched pictures bug me the most when they’ve lost their aspect ratio.
Give multiple views (if not 360 degrees) along with a zoom in feature to provide the best possible substitute for touch and feel.
Some more useful reading on the products page here.
Also checkout this guide on optimizing images – keeps your image quality intact!
22. Localize stores
How much is $41.99 in Euros?
See what I did there?
The internet has no boundaries. But even on the internet people want to buy from their own city or their own country sellers.
Localize the currency, contact addresses, phone numbers and be culturally sensitive to help bring in those extra sales.
23. Persistent shopping cart
Very often, it takes a couple of visits to the website before a visitor finally makes a transaction. For a guest user, the best way to help them start where they left off is by retaining their products in their shopping cart.
If you’re using magento – here’s how you can set it up.
24. Cart abandonment triggers
Approximately, 75% of website visitors place products into their shopping carts but leave before purchasing. These guys are very hot prospects. A real time email message or phone call goes a long way in closing the deal. It could mean anywhere from 3 to 11% of extra conversion rate.
25. Allow Guest Checkout
Allowing visitors to purchase without any registration form will improve your conversion rates. Read some more on this topic here.
26. No surprise costs in the end
It has been shown to be the number one reason for cart abandonment.
27. Offer Guarantees and warranties
Who doesn’t like a freebie. If your product is an electronic item or an electrical appliance, that extra re-assurance through warranties and guarantees go a long way in convincing people to make that high-involvement decision online.
The name can be misleading – it’s not only about responding but about automating your emails based on business rule triggers. e.g. onboarding series of emails, post-purchase feedback emails etc.
There’s a list of top 10 autoresponder service providers here and it also mentions software that focuses on small businesses with email list sizes of tens of thousands or fewer.
29. List building
There are a bunch of strategies to collect email addresses for your business. You can offer content upgrades, use social proof, use competitor benchmarks, email-capture landing pages and many more.
Here’s a specific tip – There are certain words that work like magic when it comes to getting people to sign up for email lists. The top 8 are:
- “Special Offer”
- “Limited Time”
Make the most of them! You can also click this link to read more tips on list building.
Closing a sale is a lot about the right timing. A visitor might show certain indicators that he/ she is either ready to convert or for that matter ready to skip away. E.g. a visitor viewed certain content, reached a a certain step of the process (like a checkout page), commented on the site or social media etc.
31. System notifications
System notifications are a gentle reminder to your leads. These could be shipping notifications, out of stock notifications, cheap deals notifications etc. It keeps you in the customer’s mind-share without appearing too pushy!
32. Personal intermittent emails
The cool thing about being a small business owner is that it allows you to break free from corporate-template communications. Consumers are tired of jargon and mass media messaging. You can let your brand’s personality cut through the clutter and strike a personal, intimate note with your target customers.
But don’t over-do it. Intermittent personal messages will get the connection you need.
33. Personalization and Segmentation
Personalization as opposed to personal, refers to catering to the individual needs and preferences of the visitor. Start off by getting the name right and then customize the email content based on pages visited, demographic details, buying stage, seasonal offers etc. It would be tough to draft every email separately so be clever about creating segmented email lists to manage the customization.
Most people don’t read emails they scan them. Do your best to make your message relevant in those 2 seconds!
34. Subject lines
Email open rates are largely defined by the subject line. Keep them crisp, use numbers, use recipient names, be clear, send at the right time, ask a question… there is plenty of material on the web to help you.
A large number of emails addresses are on gmail and you want your mails to be landing in the primary inbox of gmail. Here’s a helpful article to help you get your emails to land into the primary tab instead of the promotions tab.
There’s a new trend that is taking off which is to put in icons and emoticons in the email subject lines as you can see a tiny little rocket here in the famous Hiten Shah’s weekly newsletter. It helps catch the eye when you’re scanning down the inbox page.
35. eMail analytics and reports
Email conversions are measured by open rate and click rate. Additionally, they help with information on hard bounces, soft bounces, geographic performance, rating subscribers etc. However, email marketing tools often charge an arm and leg to provide these fancy reports.
I am always surprised by the number of people who haven’t figured this one out and I end up getting a lot of these reactions…
Conversion focused Forms
36. Length of form
Every marketer wants as much information as possible. More information means more qualification for your leads.
However, every additional field leads to a drop off in the number of responses collected.
37. Placement of form
It may sound contradictory to the point about the form length but you need to make your form look prominent and large.
Place the form up-front and noticeable. It should be entirely ‘above the fold’. You can use contrasting colors on the form background color, the labels or the button to help attract more eyeballs.
38. Re-assurances (privacy, spam etc.)
Write a line next to the form button to tell people that their information will not be mis-used. Make it direct. Make it emphatic.
39. Captcha alternatives
Captcha is an out-dated, inelegant and inefficient solution for spam. It always leads to drop-offs. It looks ugly. It’s a negative user experience.
You can try Honeypot, No Captcha or Social Logins instead of using a captcha. You can also use spam filter tools like clean talk which has plugins for wordpress, drupal, joomla, magento and many more software. Akismet is another popular option for wordpress users.
Have you ever filled out a form, waited for the whole page to load and received a cryptic message about an error you made. Has the made you just leave that website all together. That’s certainly happened to me.
Make your form validations instantaneous and intuitive. You can achieve this by handling the validations at the client-side rather than database driven. Now that’s a huge topic in itself but your IT team can look up the right validation solution for you.
41. Selection vs typing
Any time you can give a drop down option instead of text box – go with the drop down. Clicking is so much easier than typing.
42. Don’t make your customer repeat information
Repetition. It’s annoying when you have to re-type or re-read the same stuff again.
Repetition. It’s annoying when you have to re-type or re-read the same stuff again.
Repetition. It’s annoying when you have to re-type or re-read the same stuff again.
43. Pre-fill information
Are there certain fields that you can pre-fill. e.g. if the user is already logged in then your probably know the person’s name and perhaps the email, phone number etc. Or, if you know the person’s country/ city location, can you have that pre-filled to make it easier for the visitor?
44. Input examples in each field
The form fields become a whole lot more intuitive when the fields contain an example of the expected text.
45. Feedback Forms and Surveys
Nothing better that asking your customers how you can improve their experience. The problem is most of them don’t want to spend time in giving you feedback. So the process of asking for feedback can itself be a negative user experience.
A slightly more friendly approach maybe to use polls and surveys where the user can simply select from options without having to think too much about long answers.
For small businesses, you can afford to skip these two features.
Incentives for Increasing Conversions
47. Discount offers
Should I discount or not? What is the impact on my brand? and on my sales?
These are the obvious question all of us go through when we think about discounting our products. There are arguments for and against. But the fact is that seasonal sales, promotional pricing, stock clearances are here to stay. Make the most of it without endangering your small scale business.
48. Free Trial
Software vs. Underwear.
Software products almost always require a free trial period. On the other hand, you can’t really give a free trial for underwear can you?
A free trial period will maximize the website sign-ups. All the more if you don’t require a credit-card. Promote the free trial as much as you can. Then, use lead nurturing techniques once you’ve got that sign up.
49. Free Downloads
In the B2B segment, prospective buyers are always looking for information to help them make a better informed decision. White papers, resource sheets, checklists are examples of effective download artifacts in exchange for subscription to the email database.
You will also build loyalty among previous buyers if you regularly provide them with knowledge tools.
That one is just a picture 😉
50. Newsletter sign up
This is often the most important mini-conversion goal for us marketers. We want to have a large database of passive buyers to build our brand recall among the target group of customers.
It’s a technique that works – email gives the highest return on investment and newsletters are a respectable way to send regular emails to your audience. Pop-ups, persistent contact forms, multiple reminders – do whatever it takes to build your newsletter database.
51. Free gift offers
A free gift seems to be a slightly better technique than discounting. As long as the free gift is relevant and useful in the context of the main purchase, it could act as the decider between a buy and no-buy decision.
Adding a picture of your customer is one of the ‘obvious’ features you need to have on your website. Additionally you can logos of publications where you have received coverage (if any)
If it’s a celebrity or even a local/ mini celebrity – then all the better!
53. Domain authority reference
Your conversions will surely benefit by domain experts referring or endorsing your product. Your website SEO ranking will also improve if their posts link to your site.
Buzzsumo is an excellent tool to understand what topics of content are hot among your target segment or your competition. You can identify top authors and top influencers along with each topic to help you understand where you should build relationships.
54. Landing Pages
Alert: shameless product plug ahead.
Sunny Landing Pages is a Landing Page Builder which allows marketers to build pages without help from IT or design teams. More importantly, the ready made template and themes incorporate all the best practices of conversions (or as many as possible)
It’s a drag and drop builder with all the elements you would ever need – text, images, video, buttons, sections, headlines, maps and more!
It’s a hosted service so you don’t have to worry about servers and maintenance.
You can define your own customer URL based on your domain.
It generally takes less than 30 minutes to customize and publish your page.
There’s a free account if you want only 3 pages or less.
55. Outreach programs
Lead nurturing is the process of engaging with prospects that are not yet ready to make a purchase (or ready to convert).
People recommend a 2-1-1 (or a 4-1-1) program for lead nurturing. This program recommends that you create and distribute content which is useful, relevant and unique. For every 4 such content emails (or social posts), you should then post 1 soft-sell message and 1 hard-sell message.
Some more resources on lead nurturing and 4-1-1.
56. Product Updates
Keeping the audience updated on product releases, new developments and engaging anecdotes builds a good impression. For technology product companies, this definitely works well as every new feature acts as a differentiator against competition.
57. Contests, events, webinars
For consumer businesses (B2C), contests and/ or events work well to keep passive audiences engaged.
For B2B audiences, webinars act as a great lead capture as well as engagement platform. Business buyers are constantly looking to build their knowledge and skills. Keep making them look good and they’re more likely to return the favor.
Remember the recorded webinar is just as big a lead gen tool as the live session. So don’t turn off the tap just cause the event is over.
58. Loyalty programs
My barber used to offer every 5th haircut as free. Even my local coffee shop used to have every 7th coffee order as free. Is there anything you can offer your audience to entice their loyalty?
59. Lead Qualification and Scoring
In your sales pipeline, qualification generally refers to certain eligibility criteria. E.g. you may have a minimum income threshold to be able to apply for a particular credit card.
Qualification generally involves gauging the lead’s Budget, Authority, Need and Time-frame (BANT) to assess whether a sale can/ will happen or not.
Scoring, on the other hand, provides a scale for you to objectively rank all your leads in order of their priority (size, timeline, probability of closing etc.)
60. Organic Search
Ranking high on Google will definitely improve the traffic to your site. But a high ranking website in Google results also acts as a credibility endorsement for your site. I haven’t found any specific research to back it up but intuitively I am pretty sure – higher the search engine ranking – higher the conversion rates on the site.
Some futuristic reading on ‘In SERP Conversions’
A beautiful example of personalization from Hubspot:
Sometimes you wanna go where every body knows your name
62. Funnel reporting
Another awesome piece on funnel reports from Hubspot
Measuring drop-offs at each stage of the conversion funnel is at the heart of conversions optimization. In this particular example above, a business owner might want to figure out why only 20 of he 1,868 interested customers have converted. Can she sweeten the deal for them? Is she missing out on something?
Closing in an art in itself isn’t it?
63. Data management platform
A DMP aggregates first-party and third-party data from multiple channels to help you build comprehensive demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data about your target audience.
It’s fairly complex and best suited for business that have dedicated agencies to manage their spend. As soon you understand about DMP, they’ll surely hit you with more abbreviations like DSP, SSP etc.
64. Meta Title, Meta Description
The most important reason to add meta titles and meta descriptions to each of your pages is to control what is displayed when google search displays your website its results. Like you see in this picture:
Once you have a great logo design, don’t forget about your Favicon.
A favicon is something that people have come to expect in a complete webpage. You may not get any increase in conversions with a better favicon but you will probably lose out on some conversions if you don’t have any favicon as visitors may consider your site as less than trust-worthy.
You will have plenty of debates on whether your mobile strategy should focus on Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps vs Browser Apps. Also should you cater for iOS, Andriod, Backberry, Windows – or just a subset of those?
Check your google analytics to see the mobile traffic vs desktop and the configuration of the mobile devices. That should help you make some quick decisions on your mobile strategy.
Anyway – Google might be optimizing the mobile experience automatically for the search traffic.
67. Mobile Usability
Avoid pop-up banners (use header banners instead), provide top-down scrolling only (no left-right scroll), avoid image sliders, allow for checkout on a different device and minimize information displayed.
68. Page Load Speed
Google’s free page speed tool is amazing. It gives you a score and all the parameters to improve your score.
Here’s a guide on Google’s speed tool and how you can get a 100/ 100 score!
Page load speed is one of the factors which heavily influences the Cost Per Click on your Google Adwords Campaigns. The faster the page speed the higher the quality score. The higher the quality score the lower the cost per click.
More importantly, your page abandonment shoots up with every extra second it takes for the page to load.
A good piece on how to improve your website speed.
69. Browser compatibility
We all hope that when we see our website looking fine on our machine, we’d expect it to look fine on all machines. All browsers and their versions behave differently. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera are generally found on every google analytics report.
It’s nearly impossible to get your site perfect for each browser version in combination with each device resolution and each operating system (Windows, iOS, Android etc.). But, by using your analytics you can work towards a solution that is perfect for 95% of your audience.
70. Device responsiveness
Depending on your location and your category, you maybe receiving anywhere between 15 – 70% of your traffic from mobile and tablet devices. If it’s closer to 70% then you should consider a mobile-first strategy (device specific design) rather than just plain responsive design(start big and then reduce). An interesting post on this topic here.
71. 404s and Error handling
Everyone makes mistakes. Every site has bugs. You can win over a disappointed visitor by using clever 404 messages. Like this page from mailchimp
Feel free to add your own quirky humor. By now, you can tell that I do too!
SSL certified websites demonstrate higher conversions. HTTPS wins over HTTP.
Additional badges, as you can see here below, help in establishing your credibility and hence help the conversion metrics.
73. Persistent elements
You know those social share icons and/ or lead capture forms on the left or right margins of the blog that keep following you as you scroll down. Yup – you’re right, like the ones on this website here.
They really work.
74. Click to call or chat
People transacting with small businesses for the first time, would need a little bit of human interaction.
Click-to-call, or click-to-chat and click-to-text, is triggered when a person clicks an object (e.g., button, image or text) to request an immediate connection with another person in real-time either by phone or a VoIP platform like skype.
You may not have the staff to be able to attend real-time calls, texts or web chats. You could provide the visitor with an option to request a call-back.
For businesses that deal with large volumes of leads that need qualification – an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) can be set up to manage inbound phone enquiries. You can save on your staff time while ensuring customers are being looked after.
Some companies have even set up outbound IVR calls to help in their qualification process. This is slightly pushy but it gets the work done!
77. SMS gateways
Similar to email autoresponders, sending transactional SMS to confirm orders, provide shipping details or any other service related information is a good way to ensure the communication lines with customers are open and prompt.
In many countries, promotional SMS campaigns are also helpful in creating some immediate conversions.
78. Whatsapp gateways
Whatsapp gateways are relatively new. It’s kinda spammy to send bulk whatsapp messages and I haven’t heard of much success from this technique but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
We hate pop-ups. Everyone does. But they really work.
79. Click Pop Up
This one gets triggered when your visitor clicks on your campaign text or image. They tend to have a high conversion rate, because your visitor took the action of clicking on your offer.
Some good reading on click pop ups from wishpond.
80. Timed or Scroll Pop Up
Timed pop ups wait for a pre-defined period of time, say 20 seconds before launching. This helps the visitor gain some interest in the content before you ask for their contact information.
Similarly, scroll based pop ups are triggered at particular sections when the visitor is scrolling down the page.
81. Exit-Intent Pop Up
These are the sneaky pop ups which come alive when you’re heading to close or switch your browser tab. Like this one here:
The message itself is important. Visitors could be leaving because of irrelevant content, too high pricing, couldn’t find what they wanted, they got distracted etc. So you will need to experiment with different messages to build your conversions.
Price and Payments
82. Perceived value
The absolute price of any product is perhaps not as important as the relative price or the ‘perceived value’ of the product. One way of increasing the perceived value is to show the
original price next to the current price. Like in this banner for Fire Tablets from Amazon.
83. Splinter the product
Digital Marketer recommends considering your funnel as one of three. Acquisition Funnel, Activation Funnel and Monetization Funnel.
In the acquisition funnel, you can splinter your product. The analogy is that when you walk into a bar and walk upto a woman, you don’t straight away ask for her hand in marriage. You first ask to buy her a drink.
So for your business proposal, figure out how you can splinter your offering to make your visitors decision easier. A free guide? A free trial? An accessory that can be given away or sold at cost.
84. Payment Options
Provide multiple payment options. Don’t lose out on sales by limiting the payment options.
Psychology and Persuasion
Priming is “an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus.”
In the context of selling online: colors, text, images, video etc. can all act as primers.
e.g. If I see the coupon field in the beginning of my shopping journey, then my mind is only thinking about coupons. I would then probably go look for coupons for this product/ service and not want to pay ‘full price’. So in this case, coupons acted as a negative primer.
86. Social Proof
When we go to the supermarket, we get ideas of popular products by glancing at other people’s shopping carts. It’s a real-world social validation of products.
In the digital world, use tools to re-assure visitors that they are not alone in this choice.
87. Familiarity breeds conversion
Familiarity breeds conversion – a wonderful quote to explain this basic natural human tendency. We give preference to things and people we’re familiar with.
The more people experience your brand – directly or indirectly, the more they get familiar with it and the more likely that they will convert.
This is because our brains are lazy and are creatures of habit. The easier something is to understand, the more likely we are to believe it.
Humor is a sign of confidence. Confidence is attractive.
As long as you’re going for harmless humor, your connection with visitors will grow stronger and improve conversions.
Introductory videos, explainer videos, how-to videos etc. act as ice-breakers. Nothing like a short video (<60 seconds) to get the visitor to understand what you have to offer.
It doesn’t cost too much anymore.
90. Review and rating
Star ratings are a basic tool for comparison that most people will believe in.
The orange stars catch the eyes and give an instant signal that even a million words can not achieve.
91. Trust Symbols and Badges
They’ll earn you trust in an instant.
Previously in the article, I talked about getting your visitor to repeat themselves is annoying. But on the flip side, for emphasis and for driving your point home, you may try to use repetition in your copy.
93. Contrast effect
Surprising stimuli (contrast) cause the brain to slow down, focus on the stimuli and commit it to memory. Recently facebook messenger quietly added a basketball game in their March update, which led to a huge engagement.
Some further reading on cognitive bias for conversions.
95. Display Ad Network
Google’s display network allows you to reach customers who have shown an interest in your product or service by visiting your site. It’s a simple cookie and so you can get started very quickly. Simple instructions here.
It is said, that this network reaches over 90% of the global internet users so the chances of a return on investment are pretty good.
Facebook remarketing works similar to Google AdWords remarketing, but rather than showing your ads across websites within the Display Network, your ads are shown on Facebook.
Whether it be email addresses, phone numbers, or even Facebook user IDs, you can pull a list of contacts from your CRM or wherever your customer data is stored, upload it directly to Facebook, and target people with ads that are relevant to where they are within your sales funnel.
97. Remarketing with Ad Networks
Several Ad-networks hold premium, exclusive or native advertising spots for Mobile Apps so it’s worth looking into that option too. However this could involve some level of technical expertise to use their SDKs.
98. Customer Match
This is a relatively recent product from Google to counter Facebook’s custom audience (see below in Social section) product. You can upload your lead database and Google will match the people to those using Google’s products. This allows advertisers to target prospects more efficiently.
It also provides the ‘Similar Audience’ functionality which allows you to find new prospects based on parameters identified in their uploaded lists, even if they haven’t interacted with your site.
Read more on this topic here.
Research and Planning
99. Persona building
A persona is a fictional character that represents a segment of your target audience. The personas assume the attributes of the groups they represent: social and demographic characteristics, to their own needs, desires, habits and cultural backgrounds.
By understanding your customer better, the communications and messaging improve and the conversion gets better and better.
A hypothesis is the starting point for any conversion optimization. It might be based on intuition, customer feedback or through limited data sources. The art of Conversion Rate Optimization is in continuously generating and proving (or disproving) hypotheses.
e.g. There is a mismatch in the content between the online ad and the landing page which is leading to a high bounce rate on the landing page. This hypothesis can be tested out through A/B testing the content.
More reading on conversion planning here.
101. Response Time
While it varies by product category but here is a study that shows the odds of qualifying a lead decrease by 6x after the first 30 minutes.
Marketing is real time. The shelf life of an online lead is now measured in seconds.
102. Use Social Logins
One-click social logins reduce the friction of account creation. No sign up forms and it removes the need for sending activation links through email as the Social platform would have already done that.
However some people don’t like linking their social accounts so do provide the option for a regular signup as well.
103. Get your Facebook pixel
The Facebook conversion pixel helps you measure conversions. Conversion measurement lets you track actions people take after viewing your Facebook Ads across multiple devices, including mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.
By creating a Facebook pixel and adding it to the pages of your website where conversions happen, like the checkout page, you’ll see who converts as a result of your Facebook Ads.
The pixel will continue to monitor the actions people take after clicking on your ad. You can see which device they saw the ad on and which device they ultimately converted on.
Details on how to create your facebook pixel.
104. Facebook custom audience
Custom Audiences let you reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. You can upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers of at least 20 people and Facebook will deliver your ad to those people if they’re on Facebook.
It’s a powerful tool which helps build mind-share.
Twitter APIs are powerful. Set up rules for Auto Follow, Auto Like etc. based on keywords relevant to your business. Another way to get social mileage is with ‘Pay with a Tweet’.
Free Tool: IFTTT
Tracking and Measurement
Heatmaps always remind me of the Predator movies – remember this?
Heatmaps are great visual proof for actual user behavior. We all know that humans tend to read or browse from left to right and top to bottom (except in languages like Urdu or Japanese). The heatmaps will confirm this. But what is further interesting in this example is the user interest in the top Google Local search results next to the map.
Heatmaps were traditionally used for eye-ball tracking. However now heatmaps can also be used for mouse-tracking
Mouse and track-pad tracking showcase where the user was hovering and assigns importance to that area.
Remember you need a statistically significant number of users to be able to have any meaningful inference. You’d be looking for a couple of thousand visitors before the mouse-tracking insights are reliable.
108. Recordings and Session replay
Most people don’t have the infrastructure to be able to set-up UX or UI testing rooms. The next best thing is to review the customer’s session after she is done.
Further reading: Tracking,
In the background use images which are passive and subtly promote the concept, tone and emotion you wish to convey.
If you are looking to use images on the front then ensure it is adding to your conversions and not distracting. One of the coolest examples is the direction of the eyes in a stock photo impacts where the user looks and clicks.
The layout of the page defines the information hierarchy. There are several components to the webpage layout – grid structures, symmetry, ordering of elements etc. Let’s focus on the grid structure:
Layout grids have been used in print publishing long before the Web ever existed. Grids are the invisible foundation used to achieve visual cohesion in magazine and newspaper page design and layout. They create ordered hierarchies, proportional relationships, and clear visual paths for the eye to travel.
Use a grid structure for your design. This has become all the more important given the need for mobile responsiveness of your design.
Further reading on principles of layout.
111. Golden Ratio
It turns out that the ‘Rule of Thirds‘ provides us with a Golden Ratio. A ratio which has the most aesthetically pleasing layout to viewers. The ratio is 1:1.62 and is found in nature, human body and all forms of design
Here is the concept demonstrated in logo design:
Similarly you will find the golden ratio in web design.
Standard button text like ‘Submit’ or ‘Sign-In’ are predictable but when you are working towards converting a higher number of people perhaps you can experiment a little. Use weird text or at least unusual text to grab people’s attention – like this one below.
It got your attention didn’t it?
113. Support text to Call to Action
You can also see a tagline below the button in the picture above. Support text to the button adds emphasis and can also act as a re-assurance or as an extra final push to get that button clicked. Like this example from Basecamp. It’s got a nice creative button and a strong tagline below it.
In fact you can also experiment with putting a testimonial-type image next to the button. It might lend credibility. It’s worth trying it out and then A/B Testing it.
Colors help in creating hierarchy. The more the number of colors, the greater the confusion and complexity. Lesser colors keep things simple for the viewer. A good color scheme generally uses between 3-6 colors. No more.
Remember: simple doesn’t equate to simplistic. Here’s a good article to get started on color palettes – Color Theory for Designer, Part 3: Creating Your Own Color Palettes. It gives some good ideas on color combinations which people like me can really learn from.
Generally serif fonts (fonts with feet such as Georgia) are easier to read than sans-serif fonts (fonts without feet such as Trebuchet). However, both families of fonts have special members that have been optimised for reading on screen: such as Georgia, Cambria, Tahoma, Verdana, Trebuchet, Lucida Grande.
These days the most common fonts for web and mobile are here (Roboto, Open Sans, Sans PT etc.). It gives some excellent advice on font pairings for Headline + Paragraph text.
A well-decorated room is not one that is crammed with furniture, the room also needs space to walk around. Blank space in a layout is like the space in a room for the eye to walk around. This article examines in detail the importance of white-space in a layout. Whitespace – A List Apart.
Here’s an example of a site which hasn’t used space (or colors) effectively in my mind. (Including the browser to showcase the full experience)
117. Navigation and Attention Ratio
Driving conversions is all about focus, not about creating options. Extensive top menu, main menu, footer menu, breadcrumbs are all distracting and impacts the ‘attention ratio’. Attention ratio refers to the ratio of interactive elements to the main Call to Action.
If your page has 10 interactive elements (video, menu, read more etc.) and 1 lead form to be filled then the attention ratio is 10:1.
Your challenge is to get the ratio to 1:1.
So avoid doing something like this which has a 5:1 ratio
and do something like this with a 1:1 ratio
This principle is probably not applicable for for ecommerce catalog pages but definitely counts for the product description page.
118. Bad design
Invest time in your design. Amateur work is a big turn off and impacts conversions in a big way. It does have to be expensive as you can use ready made themes, templates and elements. Get feedback from friends and people from the target customer group.
119. About us/ Team pages
Lack of management team photos and contact information is a definite turn-off. It leads me to believe the company is running in stealth mode. So make sure you spend time in getting the basic credentials clear on the website.
120. Browser extensions
121. Misleading click bait
Some content sites use this trick to increase their pageviews or to promote certain products. Your audience won’t forget if you come across as an adware/ spyware or malware so think long-term and be honest about your links!
So there we are. 121 Tips. It’s nearly impossible to ensure this list is exhaustive but do let me know what I have missed out and I promise to have a look. Here’s some further reading on improving conversions.
If you found these tips useful then do leave me a comment with your thoughts. Let me know what else you would like to read about. Here’s an interesting piece on SMB Digital Marketing and here’s another one on Inspiring Pages for 2016.